Sophie Jones collapsed and died after her eyes went ‘groggy’ from drinking the liquid prescribed to wayward parents Michelle King and Barry Jones, who also kept the substance in the tot’s fruit shoot bottles.
Barry Jones, 42, was found guilty of manslaughter and child cruelty, at Preston Crown Court in November. Michelle King, 30, her mother, admitted manslaughter at an earlier hearing.
The court heard the pair put their drug use above the health and safety of Sophie, with the child exposed to both heroin and cocaine at their Jameson Street home.
Police said the methadone was left in a place where the toddler had easy access to it, with a large number of children’s fruit juice bottles containing traces of the drug also found in a bin.
Simon Medland QC, prosecuting, said it had been stored in a beaker decorated with Tom and Jerry characters and identical to one the child used regularly.
During the trial, the prosecution said the couple made £300 a month from selling methadone to drug addicts. The drug had been prescribed to help King end her addiction.
Judge Mrs Justice Carr said it was difficult to think of more extreme negligence.
Wendy Lloyd, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said the couple showed an utter disregard for the child’s safety. She said, “From the evidence that was gathered during the police investigation it is clear that due to the chaotic lifestyles of the defendants, and their frequent use of drugs, that this was a tragedy waiting to happen.”
Jones, who has a 93-offence criminal record, was given 8 years after being convicted of manslaughter and child cruelty. King, with a 12 offence record including peddling heroin, admitted the charges.
Blackpool Safeguarding Children Board is carrying out a serious case review into Sophie’s death and is expected to report back in the new year.