THE DEATH of a six-week-old baby has been ruled as ‘sudden and unexplained’ following a two-day hearing.

Harry Chester, of Stoneycroft in Worsthorne, Burnley, died on June 11 2018 after his mother Natalie Whitehead called 999 fearing she had rolled over on him in her sleep.

When she woke up she found her son not breathing with blood around his left nostril and what appeared to be bruising on his face.

After being declared dead at the scene by paramedics, a subsequent pathological report found a small amount of cocaine metabolites and the anti-depressant drug fluoxetine in Harry’s blood but was not able to conclude where this had come from and ruled that it was only a small amount which did not contribute to the boy’s death.

Speaking at today’s proceedings assistant coroner Philip Holden said: “I simply cannot make a determination and I accept again evidence that they were only small amounts of cocaine metabolites and that they did not contribute to his death.”

Mr Holden had previously said that the drugs could have entered Harry’s system in various ways including breastfeeding, ingesting them orally or by being present when someone was smoking them.

The inquest heard that Miss Whitehead had been proscribed fluoxetine for post-natal depression but that she bottle-fed Harry with formulas rather than breastfeeding.

The post-mortem examination carried out by Dr Melanie Newbold of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Home Office registered pathologist Dr Charles Alexander Wilson also found that the blood on Harry’s face had occurred naturally after his death and that the apparent bruising was in fact a sign of blood pooling that had also occurred after death. There was no sign of trauma or disease.

Detective Inspector Tom Edmondson of Burnley Police had already told the inquest yesterday that he and his fellow officers were also satisfied after examining the scene and receiving the post-mortem report that there was no bruising consistent with injury and that cocaine and other substances did not contribute to Harry’s death.

DI Edmondson said he had carried out an examination of the scene and said found the home to be ‘warm and clean’ and that though a case had been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service because of the drugs presence, a decision was taken not to proceed.

The doctors then considered the likelihood of a case of sudden and unexplained death in infancy, the probability of which is increased in cases of co-sleeping with parents but were again unable to say whether this had contributed to Harry’s death.

Mr Holden said: “I similarly am unable to come to the conclusion that the fact of co-sleeping contributed to Harry’s death and that as such the cause of Harry’s death is undetermined.”

Harry’s parents, Miss Whitehead and Phil Chester did not attend the proceedings with Mr Holden agreeing with police’s assessment that compelling their attendance would not be necessary.