Page last updated at 12:39 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 13:39 UK

Mother jailed for toddler's death

Renzo Vestuto
Renzo was given a backache drug prescribed for his mother

A woman has been jailed for six years for causing the death of her son by feeding him crushed anti-depressant pills to make him sleep.

Laura-Jane Vestuto, 28, of Clapton, east London, regularly doped 21-month-old Renzo, the Old Bailey heard.

But the drug built up in his body because he was unable to break it down, and on 2 September 2007 Renzo awoke with breathing problems and died.

Vestuto had pleaded guilty to causing or allowing his death.

You gave him drugs for purely selfish, self-centred reasons, thinking only of yourself
Judge Peter Thornton

A more serious charge of manslaughter was allowed to lie on file after Vestuto pleaded not guilty to that offence.

Judge Peter Thornton told Vestuto: "Instead of bearing the everyday responsibility of being a parent, caring and loving for your son, you embarked on a deliberate course of administering adult drugs, knowing that was wrong and risky.

"You gave him drugs for purely selfish, self-centred reasons, thinking only of yourself."

The judge said Vestuto had been prescribed the drug seven times in the months leading up to the boy's death, for backache and to make her sleep, but was not taking it herself when Renzo died.

Little emotion

Tests showed that he had 10 times the adult therapeutic dose in his body.

Traces of other drugs, including painkillers, were also found in his system.

Police found traces of the Amitriptyline on the baby's feeder, and also believe it may have been added to juice or milk.

Judge Thornton said Vestuto had shown little emotion when her son died after being taken to hospital.

She had compounded the suffering of her mother and husband by denying giving Renzo the medication - and trying to shift the blame on to them.

Isabella Forshall, defending, said her client had intended to help Renzo.

"Like any parent, she was distressed when he was teething and miserable, and that is why she took the step she did - a desperately reckless one."

Det Insp Keith Braithwaite, of the Metropolitan Police said: "Vestuto was giving Renzo small regular doses, but a child cannot break it down in his body. He had been a perfectly fit and healthy child."



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