Father jailed over death of six-week-old baby

Hunter was jailed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Hunter was jailed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

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A SIX-week-old baby suffocated under a plastic sheet after his drunk dad left him alone on a sofa for six hours.

Little Ruaridh McLeod had been taken into the living room after waking up in the night, but dad Roderick Hunter – who had binged on booze and drugs – went to the toilet and didn’t return.

The boy’s mum, hairdresser Ashleigh McLeod, woke the next morning to find him trapped under a cover used to protect furniture while they decorated their Ferry Road Avenue home.

She frantically tried to resuscitate her son while Hunter called for an ambulance, but Ruaridh – described as a “healthy, happy baby” – was already dead.

Neighbours in the street today described tragic Ruaridh as a “bonnie wee thing”.

One said: “I’d only really seen them on the stair as they’d only been here for a few weeks when it happened.

“He was a bonnie wee thing. I’d seen him and his mum but not the dad. It’s such a tragic thing to happen.”

Another said: “They were just in and I knew they’d been decorating. I heard what had happened the next day when police came around asking questions. It’s an absolute

tragedy.”

Hunter, 30, was yesterday jailed for 27 months at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to neglecting his son while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, leaving him unattended for more than six hours and failing to provide for his physical safety and emotional wellbeing on November 23, 2011.

The court heard how chef Hunter had been sipping alcohol secretly from a juice bottle while at work that night, before drinking with a colleague after his shift. He then bought cider on his way home but stopped at a bar for more drinks. When he got back, he continued to knock back booze and smoked cannabis.

Prosecutor Karon Rollo said that when Ruaridh woke at around 3am, Hunter took him into the living room for a feed, but added that the dad now had no memory of placing his son on the sofa.

Ms Rollo said that when Ms McLeod woke up at 10am “she panicked and asked the accused where the child was” before finding him “lying on the settee on his back with the plastic sheeting over his head and face”.

Defence counsel Neil Murray QC told the court that the couple were still together and that Hunter was seeking help for a “long-standing drink problem”.

Jailing Hunter, who now lives in Nichollfield, Newhaven, Sheriff McColl told him: “I accept you are truly remorseful. I expect it is something with you every waking moment.”