15 Mar 2013

Parents convicted over baby's death

7:11 pm on 15 March 2013

A Gisborne couple has been sentenced to intensive supervision after admitting for the second time to causing the death of one of their children.

Sybil Harrison and Elray Marsh were sentenced in the Gisborne District Court on Friday after admitting they endangered the life of their son in July 2011 by putting him in bed with Harrison, who had been drinking heavily.

Harrison, who drank a box of beer that night, woke up to find the boy lying face down on her chest, not breathing.

Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Greig, of the Eastern District Police Child Protection Team, says the incident was the second such death for the couple in 10 months.

In July 2010 their daughter Kasey died in similar circumstances.

Harrison was sentenced to 12 months' intensive supervision and Marsh to six months' supervision and 250 hours' community work.

Mr Greig says the couple's actions are difficult to comprehend, in view of the level of information given to them about safe sleeping practices.

He says that information was ignored and they failed to change their lifestyle or their habits during the life of their son.