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Catherine Migliorini admits supplying drugs after death of Dover baby Frankie Hedgecock

A grandmother who sold methadone to a friend whose two-year-old daughter later died after drinking the heroin substitute has been spared jail.

Catherine Migliorini supplied single mum-of-five Lucy King with regular 'top-ups' over two years to supplement her prescription for the class A drug.

But the 53-year-old's illegal dealing had tragic consequences when toddler Frankie Hedgecock swallowed a 15ml dose while her mum dozed on a sofa at the family home in Dover, on June 5, 2015, a court heard.

A bottle of methadone. Stock image
A bottle of methadone. Stock image

King had inexplicably poured the dangerous drug into a measuring cup and placed it in a fire grate behind a TV the previous evening.

She then woke at 7.30am to find the little girl holding the by now empty container.

But a court heard that rather than seeking medical help for Frankie, who vomited green froth after drinking the methadone, the 39-year-old spoke to her mum, chatted on Facebook and watched The Jeremy Kyle Show.

It was not until a friend called at the house in De Burgh Street just before 10am that it was realised the 'sleeping' toddler was in fact unconscious.

Frankie was floppy, her lips blue, and could not be revived. She was pronounced dead at hospital an hour later.

King was convicted of manslaughter by reason of gross negligence and jailed for three-and-a-half years at Maidstone Crown Court in April.

Floral tributes left at the house where toddler Frankie Hedgecock died
Floral tributes left at the house where toddler Frankie Hedgecock died

The 39-year-old, who was found guilty by a jury majority of 10 to two, was told by the judge her failure to seek help for her daughter for two-and-a-half hours was “truly reprehensible”.

But at the same court former prostitute Migliorini, from Aycliff near Dover, was spared jail by the same judge after he told her she had “learnt a bitter lesson”.

Migliorini admitted supplying class A drugs.

She regularly sold some of her own methadone prescription for £5 for each top-up to buy alcohol.

The court heard police later found three empty prescription methadone bottles belonging to Migliorini at King's home.

King also told the jury the methadone her daughter drank was the remainder of the illegal top-up she had bought earlier that week from her friend.

Lucy King
Lucy King

However, Judge Jeremy Carey said it could not be said “for certain” whether the methadone ingested was that given to King legitimately as part of her own prescription or that sold by her friend.

Imposing a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years, he told Migliorini: "I make it clear that while there is indirectly a link between your supply of methadone to Lucy King and the subsequent ingestion of methadone by the little child, there is no causative link between your supply and the events of that June morning.

"I sentence you on that basis because I cannot be sure the methadone you supplied was the methadone left in a grossly negligent way in the house, and that should be clearly understood."

He also told the mother of five, who walks with the aid of a wheeled zimmer frame, she presented “a pathetic picture” with health problems which include being HIV positive and diabetic.

She also has previous convictions dating back 25 years.

But Judge Carey said it was noteworthy she had not offended in recent years, and accepted her methadone dealing was limited to her friendship with King.

Judge Jeremy Carey told Migliorini: "You have learnt a bitter lesson"
Judge Jeremy Carey told Migliorini: "You have learnt a bitter lesson"

Explaining why he could take an exceptional course and not send Migliorini to prison, he added: "You have learnt a bitter lesson.

"Those who regard this as a most unusual course must understand that with all sentencing there is an element of necessary pragmatism that needs to come into play."

Migliorini, of Old Folkestone Road, will be subject to a six-month tagged curfew between 9pm and 6am, and will be supervised by the probation service with a 40-day rehabilitative activity requirement.

Natasha Spreadborough, defending, said Migliorini's dependence on alcohol led to her selling her methadone to King.

But she added knowing her action led “directly or indirectly” to the toddler's death was punishment itself.

"Never in her wildest dreams or realms of comprehension would she have anticipated that the consequence or result of her selling some of her prescription drugs to her close friend would result in the death of a baby," said Miss Spreadborough.

“That guilt will remain with her for the rest of her life."

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