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Mother killed her four-month-old son while high on drugs by knocking TV onto his head as he lay below, court hearsCourt told that 25-yearold mother was high on heroin, Valium and alcohol
Youngster suffered 'catastrophic' brain injuries day after tv toppled on him Father also accused of being high and faces child cruelty charges
17:31 GMT, 10 December 2012
A mother who was high on a cocktail of drugs and alcohol killed her four-month-old son when she knocked a large television on to his head, a court has heard.
Preston Crown Court was told that Natalie McMillan, 25, from Burnley in Lancashire had taken a mixture of heroin and Valium and was in no fit state to look after her son Kian when the incident happened.
The youngster suffered 'catastrophic' brain injuries the day after the television toppled from a cupboard while he was resting on a mat on the floor of the family home last December.
On trial: Natalie McMillan, 25, from Burnley in Lancashire, pictured left, and Edward Hanratty, 41, right, appeared at Preston Crown Court to answer child cruelty charges
The court was told that Ms McMillan had been attempting to move the tv to plug in a scart lead so she could watch a DVD when it fell.
Kian's father, Edward Hanratty, 41, was also under the influence of drugs at the time and had passed out on the kitchen floor earlier, the court was told.
Suzanne Goddard QC, prosecuting, said: 'The prosecution case is that Natalie McMillan was not in any fit state to look after a child. She had taken heroin and valium and an amount of alcohol.
'She chose to become intoxicated to the extent that she was not capable of caring for her child in a safe and appropriate manner.'
Miss Goddard said the defendant was 'careless and drug-fuelled', and that no sober person would have failed to notice the dangerousness of a child's head lying so close to a heavy television.
'Her needs were more important than her child,' she said. 'The simple step of moving Kian would have saved his life.
'She showed careless indifference to the life of her child that night.
'This was not a tragic accident, every
parent's nightmare. This was an entirely preventable death. An accident
that should never have happened.'
prosecution also said that Hanratty had a responsibility to Kian and
that he too was in no fit state to look after him and should have
ensured someone else did.
McMillan, from Leeds, denies manslaughter by gross negligence and child cruelty.
Hanratty, from Bradford, denies child cruelty.
When the police inquiry started, it became clear that the defendants had had dealings with drug agencies and social services, the court heard.
A history of drug abuse and relationship difficulties also soon emerged, said Ms Goddard.
The pair had lived in Halifax until 2009 but McMillan ended the relationship and moved to Burnley to be closer to her family because she said Hanratty was violent and controlling.
But their relationship was rekindled despite the disapproval of McMillan's family and he effectively moved in with her.
The court was told that Ms McMillan, pictured, had been attempting to plug in a scart lead when the television fell
Hanratty had previously had two children removed from his care with a different partner because of his drug problems.
As a consequence McMillan knew social services would be concerned and she attempted to hide the fact that he was living with her, the jury was told.
She initially lied to social workers that he played a 'very little part' in her life and she was no longer abusing drugs.
McMillan also concealed the relationship from health visitors.
Ms Goddard added: 'The prosecution say that Natalie McMillan was clearly not being honest with healthcare and other professionals who were trying to assist her and Kian.
'She was hiding the full extent of her illicit drug use and her relationship with Edward Hanratty.'
The court heard that the numerous professionals who visited the household were satisfied that Kian was healthy and being well cared for.
When McMillan was interviewed by police, she told them it was an accident but she had not been using drugs at the time.
Miss Goddard said the defendant was 'abusive and rude' at the custody desk when she was bailed on the night of December 6.
'Her priority seemed to be getting her cigarettes, having a shower and a change,' she said, 'rather than getting to her seriously-ill son as soon as possible.'
She maintained in a second interview that she was the one who knocked the television over but in a defence statement served to the court she said it was Hanratty who dropped it and she was upstairs at the time.
It was her position, said Ms Goddard, that she lied about the whole incident from the 999 call onwards at Hanratty's request.
The prosecutor said that her defence 'does not hold close scrutiny' and that she was trying to shift the blame on to her co-defendant.
'What mother would be prepared to accept responsibility for the obviously serious injuries that would lead to her child's death,' she said.
'We say she told the truth about one thing – that she was responsible for moving and then dropping the television on Kian.'
Hanratty told detectives he had taken two valium tablets and drunk three cans of strong lager on the night in question.
He fell asleep on the kitchen floor and was woken up to be told by McMillan that she had dropped the television.
The trial continues.