Drunk Caterham mum jailed for letting son drown in the bath
A drunk mum who left her two sons alone in the bath while chatting to neighbours has been jailed for more than three years after one of the tots drowned.
Danielle Reeves left 11-month old Frankie Joe and Alfie, two, unattended in the water for up to 45 minutes after "getting pissed" on vodka.
When the 24-year-old went back inside, she found Frankie Joe, who was just days from his first birthday, underwater.
Reeves of Stirling Drive, Caterham, took him to neighbours pretending he had had a fit and then lied to medical staff, saying she had only turned her back for a couple of minutes.
Guildford Crown Court heard on September 12 last year, two neighbours were in the communal area when they were joined by Reeves.
Prosecutor Ruby Selva said: "They saw the defendant's partner leaving and within minutes Miss Reeves came out of her flat.
"Miss Reeves said she was pissed, she had had one too many and had been drinking vodka. She told them she and her partner had split up as he was too old and she was young and wanted to do silly things.
"At this time neighbours could hear toddler Alfie screaming, which wasn't unusual.
"They got the impression Danielle Reeves could see Alfie and assumed he was trying to climb over the stairgate."
When asked if this was the case Reeves said he was in the bath. She did not mention Frankie Joe, and it was presumed he was elsewhere.
After returning inside, she almost immediately came running out again screaming, with a naked and wet Frankie Joe, and neighbours realised he must have been in the bath too.
The court heard when paramedics arrived at the address in London Road, Redhill, one had to stop the blonde mum getting in the way.
"Miss Reeves said words to the effect her two-year-old had dunked his head in the bath, that she had only been away for two minutes and the he had a habit of doing so," Miss Selva said.
She said Reeves claimed Alfie was jealous of the attention Frankie Joe received.
At hospital Reeves gave several doctors a false account of what had happened.
When her partner arrived he immediately blamed her for what had happened and when her brother was contacted, his response was "was she pissed?"
The youngster died in hospital on September 16 last year, the day after his first birthday.
Aisling Byrne defending Reeves said her client had not deliberately harmed her son and said she was not drunk, despite what she had told neighbours.
She said her blaming of Alfie and her lies to medical staff were the result of "emotional deprivation" from her own upbringing.
Ms Byrne said: "It is her fault. It was no-one else's and she blames no-one and nothing else for the loss of her son. That is something Miss Reeves will continue to confront for the rest of her life."
The court heard neighbours had told police about Reeves' heavy drinking and cannabis smoking, with one calling social services after smelling cannabis coming from her flat the same day she returned home from hospital after giving birth to Frankie Joe.
Miss Byrnes said: "Miss Reeves had been less than a model parent, who used alcohol and smoked cannabis and had a volatile relationship with her neighbours, but there is nothing to suggest either of the children were being neglected or abused."
In December 2006, Reeves hit the headlines during a happy slapping murder trial. She was acquitted of murdering 30-year-old Luke Salisbury in a group attack in Epsom, for which two people were later convicted.
Miss Selva told the judge Reeves had been reported for two assaults when she was aged 14 or 15, but no reference was made to the Old Bailey happy slapping trial as she was not convicted.
Reeves, who cried throughout the sentencing, had admitted the manslaughter of Frankie Joe at an earlier hearing. She began howling as she was jailed for 45 months.
Judge Christopher Critchlow told her: "You totally abandoned your responsibilities as the mother of a baby at bath time.
"You completely overlooked the risk to him of being unattended and not just for a moment or two, but for a very long time.
"You have been a user of cannabis and were using it at this time. You were undoubtedly affected by alcohol on that day.
"I am quite satisfied if you had not been so affected this tragedy would not have occurred.
"You didn't go and check what was happening and that was criminal neglect for the welfare and safety of your sons and so it was Frankie Joe died and you will have to live with that."