Burnley mum 'high on drugs' as toppling TV set killed baby

HIGH Natalie McMillan

HIGH Natalie McMillan

First published in Burnley Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A MUM accused of killing her four-month old son when a TV fell on his head was high on drugs and alcohol, a jury heard.

Natalie McMillan, 25, had taken heroin, valium and alcohol and was not capable of looking after her son Kian in a 'safe and appropriate manner'.

Police also found valium tablets in the baby’s cot and syringes at her house in Scarlett Street, Burnley, the court heard.

Syringes, thought to be used to inject heroin, were discovered in a kitchen cupboard, it was alleged.

At the start of a two-week trial at Preston, prosecutors said she treated her son with a ‘careless, drug-fuelled indifference’.

McMillan denies a charge of manslaughter by gross negligence and child cruelty.

Kian's father Edward Hanratty, 41, who had passed out on the kitchen floor also under the influence of drugs, denies a charge of child cruelty.

The court heard the TV toppled off a cupboard as McMillan attempted to move it to plug in a scart lead so she could watch a DVD at their home at around 2.45am on December 5 last year.

The tot was lying on his mat below when the TV set fell on his head causing ‘catastrophic’ brain injuries. He died the next day in hospital after the couple agreed to switch off his life support.

McMillan called 999 and told them that she thought Kian might have been injured by the TV.

She had noticed a lump on his head and he was not feeding.

During the 999 call she said she had been ‘messing around with the telly’ when it had fallen.

When paramedics arrived they found Kian unconscious and with ‘fluid’, either blood or spinal fluid, coming from his nose and mouth.

They said both parents appeared to be ‘disorientated’ and under the influence of drink and drugs.

Suzanne Goddard, prosecuting said: “The prosecution case is that Natalie McMillan was not in any fit state to be looking after a child. She had taken heroin, valium and an amount of alcohol.

“She chose to become intoxicated to the extent that we say she was not capable of caring for the child in a safe and appropriate manner.

“She left him asleep on the floor in front of the fire as she attempted to change the plug and scart leads on the TV. She was forced to move the heavy TV around on the cupboard.

“She tried this when she was affected by drugs and alcohol and when the child was only a few inches away on the floor.

“The slightest amount of care would have led her to move the baby away.

“She treated Kian with a careless, drug-fuelled indifference, her needs were more important to her than Kian’s.

“This was an entirely preventable death, an accident that should never have happened.”

The court heard paramedics Claire Welsh and her colleague, Craig Terry, had to ask McMillan and Hanratty to hurry up on several occasions.

Miss Goddard said while at the hospital McMillan and Hanratty had been outside smoking while Kian was inside fighting for life.

Both defendants were arrested and drug tests later confirmed McMillan had taken heroin and valium close to the time of the incident, and Hanratty had used heroin and cocaine in the 24 hours before the incident.

When interviewed by police Hanratty said that he and McMillan had gone out with Kian to buy valium tablets on the night of the incident.

McMillan was originally from Burnley but had moved to Halifax to live with Hanratty. She moved back to Burnley after Kian’s birth after initially splitting up with Hanratty, who she had said was violent and controlling.

McMillan told social services that Hanratty, who had had two children from a previous relationship removed from his care, was only seeing Kian ‘once a twice a fortnight’.

But the prosecution said that he was living in the property, and that McMillan was trying to hide the extent of their relationship because she knew social services would be concerned.

When interviewed by police McMillan said the television incident had been an accident and that she was not under the influence of drink or drugs at the time.

In a second police interview at the end of January McMillan maintained that she had been the one who knocked the television over.

But in a defence statement served to the court she said it was Hanratty who had dropped it, and that she had been upstairs at the time.

Hanratty told detectives he had taken two valium tablets and drunk three cans of strong lager on the night in question.

He fell asleep on the kitchen floor and was woken up to be told by McMillan that she had dropped the television.

McMillan, of Clarendon Road, Leeds, denies manslaughter by gross negligence and child cruelty. Hanratty, of Dirkhill Road, Bradford, denies child cruelty.

The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.

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