A DAD who woke to find his 15-week-old baby boy had died while in bed next to him has been spared jail for child neglect.
Jamie Lucas had consumed a significant amount of alcohol as well as a small amount of cocaine when he was left to care for little Frankie Lucas and two other children.
North News and Pictures2 Neglectful dad Jamie Lucas was handed a suspended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court after his 15-week old son Frankie died while sleeping in the same bed as him
Lucas, who had drunk seven bottles of lager and some vodka, fears he may have lain on the baby in bed but a court heard the child's death could not be attributed to him.
The 27-year-old from Newcastle, who admitted child cruelty by neglect, was left devastated by the death of Frankie and a judge said the loss of his son will be a long-lasting punishment in itself.
At Newcastle Crown Court, Lucas was given a two year prison sentence, suspended for two years, with a 12 month night-time curfew.
Judge Sarah Mallett, who said the case was "tragic", told him: "I note that the loss of your son will be an enduring punishment in itself, the impact of which cannot be minimised."
The court heard Frankie's mother had gone out to her sister's for the night in November 2017 and left Lucas in charge.
She returned early the next morning to find Lucas asleep in bed with Frankie and another child.
The baby was unresponsive and floppy next to his dad's leg.
Co-sleeping with a parent who has consumed alcohol and cocaine is acknowledged to be a major risk factor.
Judge Sarah Mallett
The family, paramedics and hospital all tried to revive the baby, who had been recovering from bronchitis, but he was in cardiac arrest when he was found and could not be saved.
Lucas, who couldn't remember putting Frankie in the bed, was in "acute distress" when he realised what had happened and immediately confessed he was in the wrong.
Judge Sarah Mallett told him: "You thought you must have lain on the baby.
"You said, and I accept, you had not intended to hurt your son.'
Judge Mallett added: "Co-sleeping with a parent who has consumed alcohol and cocaine is acknowledged to be a major risk factor."
The court heard the cause of Frankie's death was unknown and the judge told Lucas: "It cannot be attributed to you."
But she added: "You did have sole care at the time of two young children and a baby, the baby had been poorly.
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"You knew he had respiratory issues and he was, therefore, obviously vulnerable.
"You deliberately engaged in that behaviour over a lengthy period of time. It was obviously going to, inevitably, render you unable to care for the children and keep them safe, which was your responsibility.
"That is the neglect you fall to be sentenced for."
North News and Pictures2 The court heard Lucas had drunk lager and vodka before the child's death