Child was close to death after taking drug

PUBLISHED: 10:26 13 December 2007 | UPDATED: 13:07 04 May 2010

A CHILD nearly died after swallowing some methadone - a heroin substitute - that had been prescribed to drug addict Lara Mayes. The youngster became drowsy and sick, stopped breathing three times, and needed to be admitted to a hospital critical care uni

A CHILD nearly died after swallowing some methadone - a heroin substitute - that had been prescribed to drug addict Lara Mayes.

The youngster became drowsy and sick, stopped breathing three times, and needed to be admitted to a hospital critical care unit.

This "scandalous case of neglect" was outlined to Ely magistrates on Thursday, who were told that 24-year-old Mayes had not immediately sought medical help for the child.

The court heard from prosecutor Matthew Bradbury how Mayes saw the child holding the methadone drug container about 5pm on May 18, and later noticed the youngster was drowsy, sick and unsteady.

Later the same day another person realised the child's pupils were small; saw some drug spillage and a doctor and ambulance were called. The youngster suffered a first respiratory arrest just after 8pm, and was treated in the ambulance for a second arrest about 10 minutes later.

Five days earlier, the child, who cannot be named due to a court order, had touched some methadone spillage, and had been "not terribly well." The youngster was sick, but Mayes had not called anyone for advice.

"There should be no situation in which a child can get hold of methadone, it is a powerful opiate drug," said Mr Bradbury.

"On the first occasion the child got near the methadone, and on the second occasion, having established it was likely the child had taken methadone, an ambulance was not immediately called."

The Crown accepted that the incidents were accidental and not deliberate, he added.

Mayes, of West End Close, Witchford, admitted wilfully neglecting the child between May 13 and 19.

A charge of wilfully assaulting or ill treating the youngster was withdrawn.

Mr Bradbury said the facts of the case would be refined before sentencing, "but this is broadly what happened."

Mitigating, solicitor Adam Haselhurst said details of the case needed to be resolved, but Mayes had never denied the important aspects of the case.

The neglect had not been deliberate, and Mayes did not think the child consumed the drug on the first occasion, but was already unwell when touching the spilled drug.

The court committed Mayes to Cambridge Crown Court for sentence.

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