Two drug users who recklessly took cocaine and exposed a baby, who later died, to the narcotic have been sentenced.
Sheriff Ian Cruickshank accepted that the remorse shown by the couple, Sam Scott, of Lossiemouth, and Abigail Sherwin, of Lhanbryde, was genuine and that they had “turned their lives around.”
Sentence had been deferred at Inverness Sheriff Court for a background report on the pair who previously admitted two charges of causing two children to directly or indirectly ingest controlled drugs while they were in their care.
One was only about three months old when they died, the other was a toddler who scientists estimated from hair samples was exposed between July and November of 2021.
Scott, 32, and Sherwin, 28, pleaded guilty to willfully neglecting the baby by recklessly consuming drugs in their presence.
They both also admitted causing the other child unnecessary suffering by regularly consuming drugs while the toddler was in their care.
Sentencing each of them to 250 hours of unpaid work and two years social work supervision, the Sheriff told them: “Your individual involvement in the drug culture led to the death of a child but I accept there was no intention to harm.
Addressing Sherwin, he added: “I also accept that you were devastated by what happened.”
He told Scott: “I accept that your remorse is genuine and you are assessed at minimum risk of reoffending.”
Fiscal depute Robert Weir told Sheriff Cruickshank that the baby was found dead on February 9, 2021, and Sherwin called an ambulance.
“They both admitted to having consumed cocaine the night before and they provided urine samples to police.”
Mr Weir said two baby bottles were also seized and both tested positive for cocaine.
Sherwin’s urine sample tested positive for desmethyldiazepam, cocaine and cannabinoids and Scott’s showed ibuprofen, levamisole ( a common cocaine adulterant), cocaine and cannabinoids.
Mr Weir added that a post mortem revealed no injuries on the baby but a minimal amount of cocaine and its metabolites were found in their urine.
“The cause of death was certified as ‘sudden death in infancy with cocaine exposure’,” he said.
“Subsequent expert opinion was that the cause of death could not be linked to the presence of cocaine.”
He said the other child’s hair was examined but it was “not possible to conclude if this exposure is through ingestion of cocaine or if the positive results are due to one or more other exposures”.
Scott was represented by Elgin solicitor Stephen Carty and Sherwin by Edward Targowski KC.
Mr Carty told the court: “These events are tragic and he has to live with this for the rest of his life. Since then he has turned his life around, is in a new relationship and there are no concerns from social work. He is in full time employment and no longer uses illicit substances.”
Mr Targowski said: “My client was the subject of a controlling and abusive relationship and she has now left that relationship. Intensive social work intervention has ensured she has turned her life around.”
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