Inquiry call after Caernarfon mother fed baby methadone

A councillor has called for an inquiry into the “shocking case” of a mother in Gwynedd who bottle fed her baby the heroin substitute methadone.

Nia Wyn Jones, 30, of Caernarfon, was jailed for three years after a judge heard she added potentially lethal amounts of the drug to milk.

Peter Read, vice chairman of Gwynedd council’s care scrutiny committee, said lessons could be learned.

A drug expert said it was a very serious but isolated case.

Judge Merfyn Hughes at Caernarfon Crown Court heard the baby was being given the equivalent of a “full bag of heroin” every day.

The mother’s actions were uncovered when the baby was admitted to hospital on Christmas Eve.

The judge told Jones: “You could easily have killed her. She’s lucky to have survived.”

She had admitted supplying methadone and ill-treating the child.

The court heard that Jones, a drug user, had obtained the methadone on the black market, in an attempt to get herself off heroin.

Councillor Peter Read said social services were under a lot of pressure and realistically could not be expected to keep track on everyone, especially if they were trying to avoid being picked up.

But he said he thought there could be lessons for the department.

Dr Richard Pates, clinical director of the Drug and Alcohol Services in Cardiff, said it was “a very serious case.”

“The serious question is should it have been detected in the baby any earlier?” he told BBC Radio Wales.

“Nasty case”

“It would not necessarily have been easy to detect in the child except the child, one would have thought, would have been unusually placid which would have been the effect of taking methadone.

“It’s a bit of a surprise it was not picked up by health visitors before then but I would not want to lay the blame at them because it’s too easy without knowing the circumstances.”

But he added: “We must be carful not to over-react and think this is happening all over Wales.

“I think this is a very isolated case and a very nasty case.”

The court was told medical teams had to continue treating the child with other opium-based drugs, because she had developed a dependency on the methadone

It heard there remained a risk of permanent damage to the baby’s brain but that would only be established as she grew up.