Hucknall baby death: drug-using parents avoid jail over 'neglect' that led to newborn tragically dying

Tiny Hucknall newborn Hunter White was just 18 days old when he died in tragic circumstances on a night when both his parents had taken drugs, a court heard.

Thursday, 26th May 2022, 12:22 pm

The tot was pronounced dead by paramedics at his home on Kingsway Gardens on July 10, 2020.

In a lengthy court case, his parents – Terri Walters, 32, of Kingsway Gardens and Adam White, 45, of Foxhill Road East, Carlton – pleaded guilty to cruelty to a person under the age of 16.

There have been several delays to their sentencing, but they were finally handed their punishment on Thursday (May 26) at Nottingham Crown Court.

Mum Terri Walters, of Hucknall (copyright:Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post)

The former couple sat side by side, crying, as the Recorder of Nottingham, Judge Gregory Dickinson QC, told them they wouldn’t be going direct to jail.

Adam White was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, 120 hours of unpaid work and 40 rehabilitation activity days.

Walters has been given a community order for two years, nine-month drug rehabilitation requirement and 40 rehabilitation activity days. She must return to court for regular reviews.

Hunter died in the care of Adam White while Walters was in the house at the time.

Dad Adam White, 45, of Foxhill Road East, Carlton (copyright:Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post)

The baby died due to ‘positional asphyxia’ – a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain.

During sentencing, Judge Dickinson said Walters was an habitual user of cocaine, and White of cannabis.

On the night of the tragedy, Walters went to bed leaving Hunter in a Moses basket while White slept on the settee. He fed the baby twice, returning him to the basket after the first time. But after the second feed he fell asleep.

“Hunter slipped between you and the chair and couldn’t breath,” the judge told him. “The tragic fact is that had you returned Hunter to the basket he would still be alive.

"From your tragic demeanour it’s clear you think of little else.”

He continued: “I will say something I have never said before, and suspect I will never say again. I am not comfortable with the sentences I am about to impose.”

The court heard both were originally charged with causing or allowing the death of a child, but ‘it was not clear to anyone how the case was put so it was adjourned until September’ when the charges were changed to cruelty by way of neglect.

White pleaded guilty straight away, but Walters denied the charge – only changing her plea to guilty before a trial in March.

“I find it impossible to come to a sure conclusion in this case,” Judge Dickinson said. “There is no allegation of persistent or repeated neglect which is so often a feature of cases like this.”

He said White took cannabis that night, but the prosecution couldn’t say what effect it had on him or to what extent it had anything to do with him falling asleep with the baby in his arms.

“I am compelled to conclude this was a brief single lapse of judgment,” he said. “I simply don't know how this is connected to your use of cannabis.”

Nottingham Crown Court heard White has limited previous convictions, of no relevance, and social care regarded him ‘as the more stable and reliable of the two of you.’

"I have rarely seen someone so wracked with guilt,” the judge told him. “I believe this will haunt you for a very long time."

He said Walters, who also has previous convictions, told the probation service it was ‘100 per cent Adam White's fault.’ She drank alcohol and used cocaine before going to bed.