Theory behind ice addict’s baby death
TOYS and blankets placed in a Sydney baby's cot by her drug-addicted mother may have tragically led to her death, a doctor has told a NSW coroner.
An inquest is examining the sudden deaths of two half-sisters, known as BLGN and DG, who were three months and 19 days old respectively, in 2014 and 2015.
Police found an ice pipe on top of a steriliser at the house the day BLGN was discovered unmoving in her cot, which was filled with soft toys, blankets, an adult-sized pillow and two baby bottles.
Forensic pathologist Professor Roger Byard said the crowded cot posed a "potentially dangerous sleeping environment" that may have led to accidental suffocation.
"If those (items) were over the nose and the mouth, it's quite possible that BLGN could not breathe properly," he told Glebe Coroners Court on Thursday.
The inquest previously heard the mother told detectives she discovered her baby's face covered by a blue blanket, but on Monday she said she could still see her child's nose, mouth, eyes and a small part of her ear.
Professor Byard couldn't determine a time of death but said if she had died of sudden infant death syndrome, it would have been quick and painless.
"It's usually in their sleep and they just don't wake up," he said. Professor Byard said it's a constant battle educating people about safe infant sleeping habits.
"Young people who have drug habits ... it's very hard to get the message through," he said.
On Wednesday, the family's drug dealer denied allegations from his ex-mistress that he killed BLGN the night before she was found in her cot.
Professor Byard noted that in the event of deliberate suffocation from a hand or pillow, he wouldn't expect to find any evidence on the child's body.
He listed the cause of death for both girls as "undetermined". An internal report has revealed the Department of Family and Community Services repeatedly failed to remove the children from their mother despite horrific accounts of drug use, neglect, violence and homelessness.
During 2013/14, around the time BLGN died, caseworkers from her local FACS branch only responded to 27 per cent of child risk of significant harm reports with a face-to-face visit.
That figure was roughly the same in 2016/17, despite the volume of reports "significantly increasing", FACS's Simone Walker told the coroner.
Ms Walker said at least half of the reports weren't being followed up with a caseworker visit in the broader outer western Sydney area during that time.
She acknowledged child protection workers made many mistakes and told relatives who were crying in the courtroom that the department was now striving to foster working relationships with vulnerable families.
"That's not what we did and I really apologise for that," Ms Walker said.
The inquest continues today.