Mum’s heartbreak after baby son dies while sleeping next to her ex-partner

Sarah Jackson, 26, is speaking out so that other parents don’t have to go through the same anguish as she did

A young mum has spoken of her devastation after her baby son died sleeping with her ex-partner.

Baby Archie Jackson was just two and a half months old when he died after being placed on a sofa next to a sleeping adult.

His mother, Sarah, had left the tot with her ex-partner’s mum – a woman she trusted and loved – but says she will forever live the guilt of her decision.

Sarah, 26, who has two older children, says: “If I hadn’t gone out that night, Archie would still be here. I will always blame myself for leaving him


Sarah says she blames herself for her son’s death (Image: Focus Features)

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“At first, I blamed my ex-partner, David, because I thought he had put Archie on the sofa next to him.

“It wasn’t until the inquest that I found out his mum, Stephanie, had actually put Archie on the sofa whilst David was sleeping.


“I accept that this was a tragic accident. We will all have to live with this for the rest of our lives. I am Archie’s mother and I feel dreadful that I was not there when he needed me most. Some days, my grief is unbearable.

“If any good can come from this, I would like to raise awareness of the dangers of co-sleeping.

The mum has warned parents about the dangers of co-sleeping (Image: Focus Features)

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“This tragedy could and should have been avoided.”

Archie was fit and healthy when he was born in January last year.

In April, her ex-partner’s mother, Stephanie Parkinson, offered to baby-sit.

Sarah, from Blackburn, Lancs, says: “I had a good relationship with David and his mum, Stephanie. David is the father of my eldest son.

“Stephanie was like a mum to me. She helped out with the kids and made our Sunday lunch. Even after David and I separated, we stayed friends.

“After Archie was born, Stephanie continued to help out. We were very close.”

Sarah as she held Archie for the last time (Image: Focus Features)

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In April last year, when Archie was two and half months old, Stephanie planned her first big night since the birth. Stephanie had offered to baby-sit.

Sarah says: “I dropped the children with Stephanie and kissed them all goodnight. I later called in to see Stephanie on my way home. Archie was fast asleep in his Moses basket but I didn’t go near him because I’d been drinking.”

The following day, Sarah went to collect her children.

She says: “When I arrived, there was an ambulance outside. I ran straight into the back of the ambulance and my son was lying on a stretcher – dead.

“I went into shock. I couldn’t take it in.”

Stephanie Parker (pictured) had offered to babysit (Image: Focus Features)

Archie was rushed to hospital, with Sarah, where doctors battled to save him before pronouncing him dead.

Sarah says: “I was heartbroken. I just couldn’t believe it.

“I wasn’t together with Archie’s dad; we had a DNA test and the results came through the day before Archie died. So the first time he met his son was after his death. It was so sad.

“I had no idea what had happened. I called Stephanie and she told me she didn’t know how he had died. I was in total limbo.

“The police interviewed them but there were no charges. I still was no nearer to the truth.

“I was in a terrible state. We weren’t allowed to go back home because of the investigation and even after that, I couldn’t bear to go back, because of the memories.

“I was so full of anger and frustration.”

Newborn Archie when he was just a day old (Image: Focus Features)

Sarah believed that David had placed Archie on the sofa with him and had later fallen asleep. It was not until the inquest that she learned Stephanie had been the one to put him there.

She says: “I was absolutely shocked to learn that it was Stephanie – and not David – who had placed Archie on the sofa.

“He was totally blameless. I had hated him for ten months – and I was wrong to do so.

“I do appreciate this was accident and they will have to live with this forever.

“I would never have put any of my children in bed with me. I would urge other parents to learn from this tragedy.”

An inquest into the little boy’s death was held in March this year in Preston.

Sarah pictured with her ex-partner (Image: Focus Features)

Forensic pathologist, Dr Naomi Carter, who carried out the post-mortem examination on Archie, said that there was no evidence to suggest that there had been any internal or external injuries to Archie.

As far as she was concerned, Archie was a healthy little boy.

She said: “He had been on a sofa in between an adult and the back of the sofa. Tests failed to reveal a substantive cause of death but it’s crucial to say that there is an excess of death in infants who have unconventional sleeping arrangements, such as sharing beds or sofas with someone.”

Detective Inspector Tim Brown said there was nothing to suggest any criminal act had taken place, as Mr Parkinson had not been aware that Archie had been lying next to him on the sofa.

Mr Newman recorded an open conclusion and said: “I can only imagine the pain you are going through.

“We are told not to co-sleep with babies but I understand that there are occasions when this could happen.

“There’s a risk of sudden death in infancy where there have been unsafe sleeping practices and if you have a little one they should always be put back in their cot.

“I cannot say this death was an accident as there are a number of factors that could have contributed to him dying which could have been brought on by unconventional sleeping habits, and so I have to record the cause of death as unascertained.”

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