July 2023

Couple dodge jail after baby ingested cocaine in home where drug found in milk bottles

A couple have avoided jail after a baby ingested cocaine in their dirty home where traces of the drug were found in plastic milk bottles.

The West Lothian home of Paul Stirling, 28, and Ashley Jane Kerr, 36, was in a “horrendous” state which shocked police.

The court was told that they allowed the three children they were looking after to play in rooms filled with soiled nappies, knives, blades, packs of powerful tramadol painkillers and bags of rubbish dumped in various rooms

The home had ‘an unclean smell” and doors to some of the bedrooms were unable to be opened due to the amount of rubbish on the floor.

Police also found a large knife hidden under a cushion in the living room and there’s as signs of mouldy food on all the kitchen surfaces.

Officers also discovered fragments of glass on the floor in the hallway and broken furniture within bedrooms.

Baby bottles in the council home in Livingston were analysed and found to contain traces of cocaine.

Tests were then carried out on a baby who had been in the address and cocaine was found in their hair, blood and urine.

The traces were “particularly high in the hair, indicating his repeated exposure to cocaine”, Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard.

Stirling and Kerr appeared for sentencing at the court on Monday.

Sheriff Ian Anderson said he was satisfied he could impose a non-custodial sentence on the pair as both had made efforts to improve their lives.

The sheriff ordered Stirling to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and put him on supervision for two years.

Kerr was given 120 hours of unpaid work and nine months of supervision.

Stirling and Kerr, who are no longer in a relationship, pled guilty in May to wilfully ill-treating, and neglecting three children, who had been in their home, by allowing it to become untidy, dirty and strewn with waste material.

They admitted exposing the youngsters to hazardous items, and unsanitary and dangerous conditions.

Stirling also admitted failing to seek timely medical care for one child and to causing the baby to ingest cocaine from bottles of milk.

Fiscal depute Alan Wickham told the previous hearing how the home had been found in an “abject condition” and was a “horrendous environment” for youngsters to be exposed to.

Mr Wickham said a child had been in the home with Stirling in June 2018 when he called NHS 24 to report the youngster had “stopped breathing”.

The court heard Stirling reported the child had choked on their own vomit and their lips had “turned blue”.

Mr Wickham said Stirling told the operator he’d cleared the child’s airway with his hand and the youngster had “returned to normal”.

The court was told the operator advised Stirling to take the child to A&E at St John’s Hospital in Livingston.

The prosecutor said Stirling called NHS 24 again 90 minutes later to say the child was “fine” and hadn’t attended the hospital.

The operator told him a health visitor would be alerted as he’d been advised twice to go to A&E.

Police later visited the home in November 2019 and officers found it “extremely cluttered with little floor space to walk on”.

They found blister packets of tramadol lying around in several places, a knife under a sofa cushion, and flies in the kitchen which had no clean work surfaces.

The court was told four baby bottles were taken and sent for analysis, with three of them testing positive for cocaine.

Stirling, of Fauldhouse, West Lothian, and Kerr, of Livingston, pled guilty to the charge