Inquest to resume into baby boy's death at vicarage

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An inquest will resume today into the death of a baby boy at a vicarage.

The hearing into the death of Jonathan Percival was halted last October when HM Coroner for Blackpool and Fylde Alan Wilson decided to refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions after a medic stated the newborn could have survived if resuscitation attempts had been made.

Jonathan's mother Ruth Percival, 30, gave birth in a downstairs bathroom of the vicarage in Freckleton, Lancashire, while on the toilet, and her father, James, 66, then vicar of Holy Trinity CE Church, came in to help.

Mr Percival told police the child appeared "sallow and lifeless" and he thought was "obviously deceased", but Blackpool Coroner's Court was told the baby could have survived up to 15 minutes after delivery on November 25 2014.

Both Mr Percival and his daughter were arrested and questioned on suspicion of child neglect before prosecutors advised police in April 2016 there was insufficient evidence and to take no further action. The pair were initially arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child.

In March, the Crown Prosecution Service said there remained "insufficient evidence" to charge anyone.

Last October, the inquest heard Jonathan was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck between 3.30pm and 4pm but was not seen by a medical professional until about 5.35pm when Mr Percival let paramedics into the family home at Sunnyside Close.

During that period the baby was left alone in the house wrapped in a towel on a sofa as the pair visited their local GP for a pre-arranged appointment, the inquest was told.

Miss Percival told detectives that following the birth she thought the baby was asleep or deceased.

No attempt was made to ring 999, the inquest was told.

A post-mortem examination concluded the cause of death was "unascertained".

Giving evidence at the inquest, consultant neonatologist Dr Ruth Gottstein said statistical data showed that when babies were born with the cord around their neck there was an 80% survival rate with resuscitation.

She went on to tell the court: "If resuscitation had been initiated, I think the baby would have survived.

"Mouth-to-mouth would have done a good job."

The inquest at Blackpool Town Hall is scheduled for two days.