Huddersfield Mum Guilt Over Toddler's Death

A Huddersfield mum was today found guilty of child neglect after her two-year-old son died after drinking poisonous plant food.

Bradford Crown Court heard 24 year old Lauren Booth, was growing cannabis in her home in Norris Close in Huddersfield, and was using pH Up brand plant food, commonly used in hydroponic growing.

The court heard she was asleep when her son Aaron drank the toxic liquid just after lunch on November 6, 2010. She denied wilfully ill-treating or neglecting her son but was found guilty by a jury after two hours of deliberations.

She was granted bail while reports are carried out into her background and she will be sentenced on April 16.

The jury was told Aaron had not been fed and was probably extremely hungry and thirsty when he drank the plant food.

Thomas Storey, prosecuting, said information on a notebook and laptop seized from the house by police, as well as Booth's comments to Aaron's father while their son was in hospital, showed that the plant food was being used for growing cannabis.

Aaron died 11 days later at Leeds General Infirmary after his windpipe disintegrated. He had suffered several other injuries, including burns to his stomach, pancreas and spleen.

The court heard that Booth and her partner were awoken by a loud thud, to find Aaron lying down with a brown mouth and lips.

Booth's partner, ran across the road to borrow a telephone to call the emergency services.

By the time paramedics arrived, Aaron's mouth and lips were purple and he was foaming at the mouth.

He was taken to hospital in Huddersfield before being transferred to Leeds General Infirmary.

The blue plant food bottle could have been mistaken by Aaron as the soft drink Fruit Shoot, according to Mr Storey.

But it contained a highly toxic concentration of potassium hydroxide, or caustic potash, and two teaspoons of it would have been a fatal dose.

The court heard that Aaron's father, Mohammed Khan, who was no longer in a relationship with the boy's mother, did not know his son was in hospital until a week later, after a friend told him.

Mr Storey said: “She told him that she and her partner had been trying to make some money by growing skunk in the house, almost seeming annoyed by the involvement of the police because they were going to have to find somewhere else to grow the skunk, seemingly not bothered about her son.”

Mr Storey said police found a cluttered house but Aaron's room was empty, with black curtains and an open window on a cold November night.