A drug-addicted couple who gave heroin substitute to their unwell baby hours before she died were jailed today.
Bonny Richards, 28, and her partner John Davies, 32, regularly gave Holly Agius methadone in a "misguided" attempt to soothe her, Bristol Crown Court heard.
Holly was just 14 months old when she died in January last year from complications arising from a rare and lethal form of chickenpox.
Post-mortem tests revealed later that Richards and Davies frequently gave Holly heroin substitute in the six months before she died.
But this was eventually ruled out as a contributory factor in her death.
Richards, of Trafalgar Mews, in Broadwell, Gloucestershire, and Davies, of Albion Court, in Scowles, Gloucestershire, previously admitted three counts of child cruelty.
Mr Justice John Royce sentenced Richards to 15 months in prison and Davies to 18 months.
Sentencing the couple, Mr Justice Royce said: "You were both recovering heroin users, you had methadone for that purpose. You should have known of its potential dangers."
The judge said "young and vulnerable" Holly was "entitled to proper and responsible care" from Richards and Davies.
He went on: "You shut your eyes to the possible dangerous effects of administering methadone. It was reckless to the extreme. It was dangerously misguided."
Mr Justice Royce said the evidence indicated methadone must have been given to Holly over a six-month period.
He said: "On the sad night that little Holly died, she was in a distressed state. You, Davies, gave her methadone."
Mr Justice Royce said he accepted that Davies gave Holly the drug with the "mistaken belief" that it would not harm her.
He went on: "The drug was administered by you to alleviate illness or distress from which she was suffering."
He added: "This is not a case where it can be shown that the administration of methadone caused the death. The principal cause of death was a very rare form of chicken pox that led to bronchial pneumonia."
Opening the case, prosecutor Richard Smith said Richards and Davies started a relationship in the summer of 2008, and shortly after started to administer methadone to Holly.
"It was not done with the intention of harming or injuring but rather a dangerously misguided attempt to settle or calm when she was restless, irritable and apparently ill," Mr Smith said.
He went on: "By autumn 2008, Holly was teething. Bonny Richards was rubbing methadone into the gums rather than using Bonjela."
In early January last year, Holly caught chickenpox so the couple gave her more methadone.
Mr Smith said Holly went to stay with her natural father - Jason Agius - on the weekend of Saturday January 10, where her illness appeared to worsen.
He went on: "In fact Holly was suffering from a very serious form of chickenpox - a rare form that was only revealed on subsequent post-mortem examination.
"In fact by the end of that weekend, Holly was life-threateningly ill with chickenpox."
Holly returned to Richards and Davies on January 11, in a "distressed and unsettled" state, Mr Smith said, so Davies injected her with methadone.
The court heard Holly did not wake up the following morning, and was not breathing. She was taken to hospital and pronounced dead.
Davies and Richards originally lied throughout police interviews, denying any knowledge of how methadone came to be in Holly's system.Reuse content