'Neglected baby died from sores'

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THE parents of a 15-month-old baby left him untended for three hours every afternoon, tied him up in his clothing and allowed a nappy rash to develop into ulcers and sores which killed him, an Old Bailey jury was told yesterday, writes Marianne Macdonald.

The parents also neglected their six other children, bringing them up in a squalid and infested north London council house, feeding them stale bread and food foraged from a skip, and denying them basic necessities such as hot water, toilet paper and toothpaste, the court was told.

Mr X, 44, and Mrs X, 37, of north London, deny the manslaughter of their 15-month-old baby in March last year and four sample charges of cruelty and neglect of three other children.

The court heard that Mr X's brother called an ambulance to their house on 7 March last year at 9.30pm. Mrs X was outside holding a baby in her arms in a blanket and Mr X told the ambulancemen that the child was unwell. An ambulanceman who touched the baby's forehead noticed it was cold and that his boby was covered in sores. It was not until after the baby arrived at St Bartholomew's hospital at 10pm that the parents were told he was dead. Their reaction was indifference, witnesses said.

A pathologist found that the baby had severe skin inflammation over one-third of his body. There were deep ulcers on his abdomen, left foot and right leg, and he had severe nappy rash consistent with being placed on his left side in wet clothing for several days. The cause of death was pneumonia, septacaemia and nappy rash. The baby had probably been in a coma for six hours before he died, the court was told.

Mrs X told police that she felt run down and exhausted from looking after her children. She agreed that she felt too tired to look after the baby properly, and accepted the baby had been ill for two or three days and had not eaten in that time.

She and her husband repeatedly told police they thought the red marks on their infant son's body were from dye which had leaked from his clothing. At first she insisted the baby had had no marks on his body the previous day. But she later accepted she had seen the rash four days before his death.

Her husband told police he was 'very sorry', but added: 'I can't see I've done anything wrong.'

The trial continues today.