Police investigate baby's death

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Detectives were last night investigating the suspected mercy killing of a baby girl at a children's hospital.

Abigail Watts, aged 14 months, died at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Swinton on Tuesday. It is understood she had been seriously ill from birth with a condition known as clover-leaf skull, which stops the skull expanding to accommodate the brain. She was said to be severely brain damaged.

Det Supt Bill Kerr, head of Salford CID, said: "We have been asked by coroner Martin Coppel to investigate the circumstances of the death of a 14-month-old girl at the hospital."

Mr Coppel said yesterday: "In essence there were suspicions aroused at the Intensive Care Unit at the Manchester Royal Children's Hospital. Therefore I have arranged for a post-mortem examination to be carried out by a state pathologist."

The child's parents, who live in the Greater Manchester area, have both been interviewed by police and inquiries are continuing. But it could be several days before a decision is made on whether to bring charges.

The case is believed to mirror that of brain-damaged Thomas Creedon, aged two. His parents Con and Fiona from Hull launched a landmark legal battle last month for permission to allow him to die.

Thomas cannot hear or speak, has no control over his limbs or head, and suffers fits. Last week a High Court judge ruled that he should be made a ward of court.

Although he will remain at home doctors must seek permission from the courts for any changes they might want to make to his treatment. His parents will now seek further medical evidence for the case to be put to the High Court that their son should not be kept alive artificially but should instead be allowed to die.

Detectives in Salford believe that recent publicity about the Creedon case could have been a key factor in the death of the baby girl.

In another case, the parents of a two-year-old boy who was left brain- damaged after a heart operation in Devon also started a campaign last month for the right to end his life by lethal injection.