A ONE-YEAR-OLD boy who died of a drug overdose had been administered both morphine and methadone for at least the last three months of his life.
In a harrowing call to emergency services, played at a coronial inquest into the boy's death, his hysterical mother, a 22-year-old former heroin addict, screamed: "Oh, my God, what have I done?"
The mother found the boy lying on his back in his cot on Sunday, January 29, 2006.
The Sydney inquest heard the woman had been struggling with her three children and had asked neighbours for their used methadone bottles.
She said she wanted to lick the bottles to help her deal with her children, whom she described as a "handful".
The drugs found in the one-year-old's system were later described by police as "strikingly similar" to those found in a urine sample taken from the mother's boyfriend as part of a methadone program on the same day as the toddler's death.
Police initially suspected the boy had died from sudden infant death syndrome, but an autopsy showed he had died from a cocktail of drugs administered shortly before his death.
Detective Senior Constable David Redgwell said the boyfriend had been left alone with two of the women's children, including the infant, for 10 minutes at one point during the evening, which would have "definitely" been enough time for him to administer the drugs.
Tests of the child's hair showed someone had been administering the drugs to the toddler for the last three months of his life and possibly longer.
In the triple-0 call the woman started screaming uncontrollably when she realised there was a brown substance in and around the boy's mouth and ears, and vomit on his bedsheets.
"I want him to wake up," the mother cried. "Oh, my God, what have I done? I should have checked on him earlier."
Constable Redgwell told Westmead Coroner's Court the boy's mother and her boyfriend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were former heroin addicts and had many methadone bottles and used syringes scattered around their Kings Langley home in Sydney's west.
Deputy State Coroner Carl Milovanovich was told the mother had progressed well in a methadone program and a former neighbour said she had been "concerned and loving".
But when the boyfriend showed up and started living with her, things went "off the rails", the inquest heard.
The woman's other children, who were present in the house at the time of the triple-0 call, are now in protective care.
The boyfriend is serving a 12-year prison term for armed robbery and has a string of drug and violence convictions. He is expected to give evidence today.
By Matthew Clayfield
Source - http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25811727-2702,00.html