A neglected toddler died after his addict parents repeatedly gave him the heroin substitute methadone ‘like Calpol’, a court heard today.
Jayden-Lee Green, 23 months, died after being given a last fatal, adult-sized dose of the drug by his heroin-using father Jamie Green, 33.
Green and Jayden-Lee’s mother Sonia Britton, 35, did not discover his body until at least five hours later because they were groggy and hungover after binging on vodka and drugs.
Crack cocaine and heroin addict Britton was cleared of manslaughter but jailed for four years after the jury convicted her of allowing a child to die and administering methadone to her son.
Both parents wept in the dock as the verdicts were returned – with Green telling jurors ‘you’re wrong’ as they left the court.
Jailing Green, The Honourable Mr Justice Parker told him: ‘There were times when Jayden’s needs were simply too much for you. Jayden had to be pacified, quickly and efficiently.
‘The answer was to feed him a dribble of methadone to send him peacefully to sleep so that you could have the rest and tranquillity that you wanted.
Jailed: Father Jamie Green was handed a nine-month jail term after a jury unanimously found him guilty of manslaughter
Punished: The Honourable Mr Justice Parker told Sonia Britton (left) and Jamie Green (right) they would suffer ‘a prolonged anguish’ for failing to protect their infant son
‘Jayden was crying and miserable, he simply would not settle down. You reverted to the remedy that had, on other occasions, been the quick solution.
‘Only you know whether the methadone was fed in one amount or had been drip fed over a period of time that day to the point where Jayden’s small body could no longer give resistance and he died.
‘You will suffer a prolonged anguish larger than any prison sentence could impose for what you did to Jayden.’
The judge also addressed Britton as he jailed her for four years, saying: ‘You were his mother and you knew what was happening. You did nothing.
‘You were a loving and devoted mother and you will have a prolonged anguish for failing to protect your small boy.’
The three-week trial jury heard that tests on Jayden-Lee found quantities of the drug at a similar level to an adult on a methadone programme – suggesting ‘repeated exposure’ over a ‘long period of time’.
The toddler had filthy legs, a soiled nappy and methadone stains on his vest when he was discovered dead on his parents bed in their squalid and cramped one-bedroom flat in Bristol.
Both of his parents, from Bristol, told police Jayden-Lee could not have accessed the methadone bottle – fitted with a child lock – himself.
Neglected: The judge said Green and Britton had dosed their baby boy with methadone as a quick fix when they were unable to pacify him
Poisoned: Police found a small measuring cup with traces of methadone on it, which the parents used to administer doses to calm their son ‘like Calpol’
Mr William Mousley, prosecuting, previously told the jury that Jayden-Lee died at the hands of his parents, who had been together for 13 years.
He said: ‘Jayden-Lee was poisoned by being given methadone, a controlled drug used in the treatment of heroin addiction.
‘The drug was prescribed to both Sonia Britton and Jamie Green at the time and was kept on top of a kitchen cupboard – out of any child’s reach.
‘It must have been given to him by an adult and only Sonia Britton and Jamie Green were in a position to do so.
‘This was not the first time that Jayden-Lee had been given methadone.
‘Death followed that last dose and may have been caused by it alone – or it contributed significantly to it as a result of the cumulative effect of the previous taking of methadone.’
Killed by his own parents: By the time Jayden-Lee was found dead, rigor mortis had already set in
Appalling: Pub-goers said Jayden-Lee was ‘totally exhausted’ and ‘crying’ the night before he died – and that his father tried to make him ride a plastic tricycle
Jayden-Lee was taken to the couple’s local pub, the Mechanics Arms, the night before his death and was only taken home when the landlord insisted at 8.30pm.
Horrified regulars told the court how the toddler was ‘totally exhausted’ and ‘crying’ as his father repeatedly tried to make him ride a plastic tricycle.
But when they returned back to the cramped and dirty flat, Britton and Green began a drinking session with a friend – downing a bottle of vodka between them.
Britton took a ‘clingy’ and ‘miserable’ Jayden-Lee to bed at around 2.30am. She awoke at 6.45am but left the youngster to sleep.
She did not check on him until 12.30pm on August 21 last year – when she discovered him dead, with rigor mortis having set in.
Mr Mousley added: ‘While each of them cared about Jayden-Lee, he was not their priority. They were drug addicts whose need for drugs came before Jayden-Lee.
‘One of the officers who attended the property noticed that it smelled of cannabis. There was a potty in the living room that was full of urine.’
Gone too soon: Prosecutor William Mousley told the court that both addicts cared about their son, but that drugs were their top priority
Post-mortem tests on Jayden-Lee’s blood showed he had taken ‘a significant amount of methadone’ hours before his death, while hair samples showed the drug had been in his system for a ‘long period of time’.
Forensic tests found Jayden-Lee’s DNA on an empty 45ml bottle of methadone prescribed to Green, which had been thrown in the kitchen bin.
After their arrests, both Green and Britton confirmed Jayden-Lee would not have been able to access the methadone himself – but said they did not know how it came to be in his body.
They denied charges of manslaughter, allowing or causing a child to die and cruelty to a person under the age of 16, by giving Jayden-Lee methadone between January 1 and August 22 last year.
The day after finding his son dead, Green left a tribute to him on Facebook which read:
‘Rip jayden-lee with the angles my first born mummy and daddy love u loads rip are little man words cannot say how broken we are love u baby boy your broken hearted mummy and daddy x x xxx.’ [Sic].