Hair sample shows toddler Riley Pettipierre may have ingested drugs, court told
TRACES of drugs found in a two-year-old boy's hair were likely to have been ingested by the toddler in the last four months of his life, a court has heard.
The tests were done on a sample of Riley Pettipierre's hair after he died from allegedly drinking his mother's methadone.
His parents Sally Dent, 33, and Shaun Binfield, 45, of Kilbourne Road, Belper, both deny the manslaughter of their son as well as cruelty to a person under 16.
Consultant forensic toxicologist Julie Evans told the trial at Nottingham Crown Court that quantities of heroin, methadone and cocaine were found in a hair sample that represented a minimum of the last four months of the child's life.
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She said the amounts revealed by the tests indicated the drugs had been through the boy's body rather than deposited on his hair.
She said she could not say by what means the drugs had got into the child's body.
Simon Clarke, for Dent, proposed that Riley had ingested the drugs by putting contaminated items in his mouth, as well as through close contact with his mother.
Mr Clarke said: "Sally Dent was in the habit of smoking her crack cocaine and heroin in her kitchen, with the door and window closed."
Mrs Evans accepted that residue from the drugs would have landed on surfaces, including cupboard handles and crockery, as well as on Dent.
She said the mechanism described by Mr Clarke could give "measurable amounts" in the hair but, in her opinion, not the levels that were detected in Riley's case.
She said: "Theoretically, that is possible. It would require a high degree of contamination of the home environment."
She said that the residue could have been removed by washing the surface.
She also told the court that the amounts of drugs ingested, indicated by the levels of the substances in his hair, would have been "capable of causing a reaction within the body".
Mrs Evans said that the cocaine, a stimulant, could have caused the boy's heart rate to increase, as well as cause vomiting and diarrhoea, whereas the heroin and methadone were depressants and could have slowed the toddler's heart and breathing rates.
Previously, the jury was told that Dent was on a methadone treatment programme. It is alleged that Riley drank some methadone that Dent had poured into a child's beaker, intended for her own use, and put on top of a chest of drawers.
The trial continues.