Leeds mother’s pills killed toddler

Sophie George at Leeds Crown Court.
Sophie George at Leeds Crown Court.
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A tot died after he was poisoned by a massive dose of his mum’s anti-depressant pills.

But mystery still surrounds whether two-year-old Ricardo Munio took the deadly tablets himself or if they were given to him, an inquest heard.

Wakefield Coroner’s Court heard that paramedics found Ricardo unconscious in the arms of his mother Sophie George at the family home on North Farm Road, Gipton, after she had called an ambulance.

But when they tried to rush the child to hospital, they described his mother as lacking urgency and “dithering” as she went to fetch milk and then upstairs to get her coat.

Ricardo was taken to the Accident and Emergency Department at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, but was pronounced dead just before 4pm on December 11, 2008.

Following his death, routine post mortem and toxicology tests revealed levels of anti-depressant Dothiepin in his system which were the third highest ever recorded at a lab in Sheffield.

Tests carried out on Ricardo’s fingernails pointed to “historic use” of the drug going back an estimated two months prior to his death.

Miss George, 34, who the court heard had claimed asylum from Africa in 2001, initially told police she had no knowledge of where the drugs had come from.

But subsequent police inquiries revealed she had been prescribed the Dothiepin in 2002 to treat depression relating to traumatic experiences during a civil war in her home country.

A search of the family home, where mother and son lived with Ricardo’s father James Munio, then found two empty blister packs, which had contained the tablets, secreted behind a panel next to a toilet.

Miss George was arrested by detectives, but the court heard she declined to answer any questions as to how the drugs, which can cause breathing and heart problems, had come to be in her son’s system.

She later admitted a charge of child neglect and was sentenced to a two-year supervision order at Leeds Crown Court.

Recording a narrative verdict, West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchliff said: “It is not possible to determine whether Ricardo was poisoned by Dothiepin because of an accidental administration that he might have achieved himself or whether there was a more sinister, deliberate administration of the drug, the motive for which has not been discovered.”

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