Three-month-old baby tragically died after mum accidentally fell asleep during early morning breastfeed

A THREE-MONTH-OLD baby girl tragically died when her mum accidentally fell asleep during an early morning breastfeed, an inquest heard today.

Little Collette Hill was found unresponsive under her mother’s breast in the early hours of the morning before an ambulance rushed to the scene.

The tot, just 85-days-old, had woken up crying at 2am one morning in July 2018 in her parents’ flat in Plymouth, Devon.

An inquest at Plymouth Coroner’s Court was today told that Collette, known as Lettie, was “found unresponsive under the mother’s breast on a sofa” before an ambulance was called and she was rushed to Derriford Hospital.

Mum Holly Dalton could not recall how she got there or if she had been feeding her, but acknowledged she had previously fallen asleep while feeding.

The inquest was told that a post mortem could not ascertain how she died but said that “accidental smothering during breast feeding during the early hours should be considered”.

The coroner was told the baby had weight problems before and after birth and needed three hourly feeds to gain weight.

There was also a possibility the child may have suffered acute airway obstruction by the soft breast tissue as she was found under her mother’s breast, the inquest heard.


Senior south Devon and Plymouth coroner Ian Arrow was also told that the mum had smoked “a couple of spliffs” the night before and taken some Tramadol painkillers.

The baby had ingested a small amount of the Tramadol through the breastfeeding but there was “no effective drugs of abuse” in her system.

Detective Con Jennifer Bye told the inquest mother Holly and father Adam Hill were both arrested on suspicion of murder while inquiries were carried out.

But she added that the Crown Prosecution Service said no criminal charges for neglect were made out despite a police appeal against their original decision.

Det Bye maintained that the “decision not to take any criminal action sat firmly with the CPS”, and concluded it was a tragic, unexplained death.


In an interview, the tearful mum said she was “half-drowsy” with her t-shirt off, and must have fallen asleep with the tot beside her – but when she woke up she could not feel her baby suckling.

She acknowledged previously falling asleep during “intense feeding” and admitted smoking cannabis the night before the death.

While she could not recall the last feed, she said was 75% sure she had been feeding her baby.

Dad Adam Hill also confessed to smoking cannabis and confirmed that the baby had been asleep on mum Holly – and was woken by a “thump” when Lettie fell on the floor.

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Holly then woke and he said she “tucked her under her arm” and fed her before he went back to sleep at their flat.

Coroner Mr Arrow recorded an open conclusion and said it was not clear why Lettie had died but said she may have been overlaid.

However he added there was “a strong risk of co-sleeping with a child” because of the possibility of smothering the child.

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