A Melksham mother who left her baby at home to die with a 15cm skull fracture has been jailed.
Stacey Davis, 35, appeared at Salisbury Crown Court today (Thursday) to be sentenced for an offence of child cruelty – which she admitted in May 2022.
Twelve-month-old Ethan Davis was found unresponsive in his cot after the defendant swanned around for more than two hours, getting her car washed and taking another child to the park.
As temperatures soared to over 27 degrees Celsius, the youngster was abandoned at home alone – trapped in a warm room with no windows open or fans on.
Davis returned to the property and began texting a friend; she failed to check on Ethan for at least 30 minutes before going into his room and discovering him lifeless.
He was rushed to hospital on 27 June 2018 and pronounced dead shortly afterwards when medics realised nothing could be done to save the youngster.
Prosecutor Simon Jones told the court that a post-mortem examination found a significant head injury – a 15cm skull fracture – but Ethan’s cause of death remains unascertained.
Under questioning, Davis, of Caretakers Close, Melksham, told police that her son had fallen out of a door and hit his head – and despite the swelling, bruising and obvious distress, she failed to take him to hospital.
“Any reasonable parent would have noticed the distress and sought medical attention”, Mr Jones added.
Forensic investigator Nicola Anderson also detected that there were high levels of cannabis in Ethan’s hair. She said it was consistent with Davis smoking the drug around Ethan regularly.
Defence barrister Mark Ashley said his client’s case was a “classic example of post-natal depression”. Ethan was born prematurely via c-section and required colon surgery immediately, resulting in a two-month stay in hospital.
He said Davis had relationship problems and financial issues and was struggling to bond with Ethan. She was visiting him in the hospital infrequently, blaming the inability to obtain lifts from family.
“Not only suffering from that, she was coping with it in the wrong way – she was smoking cannabis”, Mr Ashley added.
Judge Parkes KC interjected, stating: “It was incredibly stupid, go outside and do it.”
Continuing, Mr Ashley told of how the defendant was scared to take Ethan to the hospital with an injury after social services previously removed him from her care due to a suspected broken leg. However, he was returned when the injury was found not to exist and found no wrongdoing.
He told the court that Davis has been working with Turning Point to cut out her cannabis use, but has smoked it this week due to her “stress levels being particularly high”.
Asking for a suspended prison sentence, he added: “Everybody involved is trying to rebuild their lives, she is trying to rebuild her life. The matter has been hanging over her head for years, she is extremely worried about going into custody.”
Describing Davis’ behaviour as “thoroughly selfish”, Judge Parkes KC imposed a two-year immediate prison sentence, for which she will serve half in custody.
He said: “There is no evidence you or his father caused Ethan’s death, no suggestion you did so. The sad fact is that you fell very seriously short of the duty owed to Ethan as his mother.
“He suffered a 15cm skull fracture one-to-three weeks before his death, likely to be from blunt impact of significant force. You failed to seek medical attention for the injury to his head. Any normal parent would put the child’s health before anything.
“It is clear you abandoned him on two occasions, including the day of this death. This is aggravated by the fact it happened twice. You left Ethan alone in his cot in a room with a closed window.
“You sat on a bench at one point, and you took [a child] to the park and went to a shop. You had taken your car to the car wash on way back. It is reasonably clear you weren’t in a hurry.
“What is particularly appalling about this episode is that you spent half an hour on the phone, sending and receiving messages [when you arrived home], until you went to check on Ethan. You had not seen him, checked on him, for nearly three hours.”
Following her sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Phil Walker, from Wiltshire Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “I would like to offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of this young boy.
“Davis’ actions on the day her son died fell well below the duty she owed to him as his mother – she should have loved him, cared for him and put his welfare first, as any loving, doting parent would.
“It has been over four years since he died and I know that this has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone who knew and loved him.
“The investigation team have worked tirelessly on what has been a challenging and extremely upsetting case and their hard work has ensured it has now been followed through to its conclusion.”
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