A Blackpool woman has today (Thursday, April 1) been jailed for the manslaughter of her baby daughter.
Caitlin Jones, 21, of Willowbank Avenue, was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison at Preston Crown Court for the manslaughter of eight-month-old Francesca Haworth.
Police were called by the Ambulance Service around 7.30am on November 7, 2018, following reports a baby had been found unresponsive at an address on Frederick Street.
Emergency services attended with Francesca taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where she sadly later died.
A Home Office post-mortem gave a cause of death as suffocation.
Detectives launched an investigation into Francesca’s death and seized a number of items including Jones’ phone and iPad.
Expert analysis of these devices established that several searches had been conducted related to suffocating babies and whether you could be prosecuted if your baby was found suffocated.
At hospital, Jones had asked if she was going to be held responsible for Francesca’s death and provided inconsistent information to police about how she had found her daughter in her cot.
Jones was arrested and later charged with murder in July 2020.
However, following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, a guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted.
Jones was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.
Det Ch Insp Gareth Willis, of Lancashire Police, said: “The death of Francesca Haworth was utterly tragic, heartbreaking and wholly avoidable.
“A baby is reliant on the care and trust of her mother to be raised in safety, without harm. Caitlin Jones was Francesca’s source of life and should have been her source of love. Sadly, she showed little regard for the welfare of her daughter that day.
“She has never given any explanation as to what she did to Francesca or indeed why. Whatever her actions that morning she has admitted she intended to cause harm to her daughter which is inexplicable.
“What we do know is that in the hours before Francesca’s death, Jones made a number of internet searches relating to suffocation of babies and whether or not she could be arrested for such an offence. Just after 7am that morning she made efforts to carefully delete those searches from her device before contacting the emergency services at 7.28am where she claimed to have only just found Francesca unresponsive with a blanket wrapped around her face.
“She provided inconsistent information about how she had found Franscesca and what condition she was in.
“Her behaviour at hospital, asking if she would be held responsible, so soon after her daughter’s death, was both concerning and unnerving.
“My thoughts remain with Francesca’s father and her family who have conducted themselves with great dignity at what has been a very sad, difficult and distressing time.
“I must say thanks to witnesses, police officers and the many others who worked on this difficult and upsetting inquiry, helping to seek justice for Francesca.”
Senior District Crown Prosecutor Isla Chilton from CPS North West said: “This was a tragic death of a young baby at the hands of her own mother. It was a deliberate and premeditated act by Caitlin Jones to suffocate her, and although she raised the alarm and called an ambulance by then it was too late.
“The forensic and pathology evidence proved that Francesca’s death was not an accident. We were also able to use the evidence that Caitlin Jones had been searching the internet for articles about babies dying from suffocation as proof that she had thought about and planned what she was going to do. Not only did the defendant try to deflect the blame from herself, she then put suspicion on to her partner for a considerable period of time by blaming him for the internet searches.
“Our thoughts are with Francesca’s family and everyone affected by this distressing case.”