A CARE professional enjoying a night out with colleagues in Carlisle got so drunk she accidentally dropped her baby, fracturing the child’s skull.

Despite other customers at the Woodrow Wilson pub in Botchergate telling the woman to have the baby checked over by medics, the woman – so drunk she was swaying on her feet – left the pub without calling an ambulance.

At Carlisle Crown Court, the mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced after earlier admitting causing her baby unnecessary suffering.

Prosecutor Gerard Rogerson outlined the facts.

The defendant was celebrating becoming a mother with colleagues, and joined a six strong group for food and drinks at a venue in north Carlisle.  They spent two hours there, having about five drinks each.

This included Prosecco and cocktails. The defendant at one point returned home to see her baby but later rejoined the group in Carlisle city centre, bringing the child with her.

They continued drinking Prosecco, visiting Lux Bar in Lowther Arcade before moving on to the Cranemakers pub on London Road, and then Walkabout on Botchergate, where they drank Tequila shots as well as Prosecco.

Because the defendant had her baby, staff asked the women to leave at 4pm, prompting a move to the nearby Woodrow Wilson pub, where they continued drinking, consuming two more bottles of Prosecco.

Mr Rogerson read statements from witness in the pub, including one woman who was looking towards the defendant and saw her drop the baby. “She heard a thud at the time it happened,” said Mr Rogerson.

“She said it all happened very quickly.”

As the mother picked up her child to comfort the infant, the witness turned to her friend and said: “Did that just happen?” There was a “commotion” in the pub, said Mr Rogerson.

People were shouting that the mother needed have her child checked over medically. “But the group chose to move on from the pub,” said Mr Rogerson.

As they were leaving, the defendant was seen holding her baby and visibly swaying. Responding to a concerned bystander, one of the people with the defendant told the person to “shut up.”

Having been told about what had happened, a retired police officer who was in the pub followed the defendant as she walked away with her child and two colleagues, tailing them along Tait Street and into Portland Square.

He saw the woman sit on a bench, with her baby in the pram. “The baby was crying the whole time,” said Mr Rogerson.

“The police arrived, and an ambulance was called and according to the witnesses and the retired police officer [the defendant] appeared to be very much under the influence of alcohol, staggering and swaying on her feet.

"Her speech was slurred. She was not overly coherent.” At no point did the mother call for an ambulance and nor did her colleagues.

One later said she had not realised the severity of what happened and just wanted to get the defendant and her child home, though in hindsight she accepted she should have called an ambulance.

Another colleague who said: “I hoped they were calling an ambulance. Afterwards, I felt shocked by the situation. It’s devastating, what happened to the baby…I wish I'd had the confidence to challenge her about my concerns earlier in the day.”

The entire incident was “completely out of character” for the defendant, she added.

A later hospital check-up confirmed the baby suffered a skull fracture, but the child has recovered and there were no ongoing consequences.

Kim Whittlestone, defending, presented “numerous” character references, including ones from the defendant's family members and former colleagues.

The adjectives used to describe the woman included “honest,” “trustworthy,” “loving”, “attentive”, “kind”, and “caring”.

"There is also an impressive reference from women who has known this defendant for many years in a social capacity; she speaks of her highly, not only as an individual, but also as a mother," said Miss Whittlestone. The woman spoke of the "close and protective relationship" between the defendant and her child.

There was also an explanation for what happened after the baby was injured. 

When she left the pub with her injured child, the court heard, the mother intended to find a medically qualified person she knew who lived nearby. She now accepted that was a poor decision and she should have sought immediate medical help at the pub.

The woman had no history of alcohol issues and on the day there had been an argument at home. “She made the foolish decision to rejoin her friends, consuming alcohol,” said Miss Whittlestone.

Since that day, the woman had done everything she could to make amends.

She had cooperated with the authorities and produced negative alcohol tests. In October, a court had ruled the child could live live at home with the parents, and without restriction. They were now a “strong family unit,” said the barrister.

“She's been deeply affected by this,” said Miss Whittlestone, pointing out that the defendant had resigned from her professional care role and had found a new job. “She’s remorseful,” added the barrister.  

Recorder Julian Shaw told the woman: “You allowed yourself to get horribly drunk.

"Worse than that, you tried to care for your defenceless child, an infant… and you dropped [the baby] and it was shocking. It’s regrettable that those who were with you did not immediately grasp the seriousness of what had just happened.”

The woman committed the offence because she got drunk, said the judge.

He continued: “Nothing I can say today can punish you as much as you have doubtless punished yourself in the last two years. I am not sending you to prison. That would, in my judgement, be completely inappropriate.”

Noting that the woman had lost her good character and her career, the judge said references pointed to “the goodness within” her. He imposed a 12-month community order with 12 rehabilitation activity days.

The Recorder added: “I am utterly confident that you will not throw this chance away.”

* The judge rejected an application from the News & Star to name the defendant, saying that this may lead to the identification of the child who was injured. He did, however, accept the woman could be identified as a former  "care professional".