Inquest into death of baby boy at Freckleton vicarage to begin today

Rev Jim Percival
Rev Jim Percival

The death of a baby boy at a vicarage will be probed today at the child’s inquest at a coroner’s court.

The Rev Jim Percival, 66, the vicar of Holy Trinity CE Church in Freckleton, and his daughter, Ruth, 29, were questioned on suspicion of murder and child neglect over the death of the child, named as Jonathan Percival, who was born in the early hours of November 25 2014, but pronounced dead a short time later.

Police had been called to the vicarage following a report that a woman had given birth to a stillborn baby.

Police said at the time that following “numerous inquiries” the death of the child was being treated as suspicious and the pair were initially questioned on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child before they were bailed pending further inquiries.

In January this year, Lancashire Police said they faced no further action in relation to the allegations of murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child but had since been arrested and questioned on suspicion of child neglect.

Ultimately no further police action or prosecution was taken as in April this yearLancashire Police said following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, both father and daughter had been told they will face no charges.

Mr Percival’s wife, Susan, 66, was also held in late 2014 on suspicion of conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child but three months later was told she faced no further action.

At an earlier pre-inquest hearing, the medical cause of the death of the baby remained unknown as the full post-mortem report was awaited.

A full inquest, scheduled to last three days, will begin today at Blackpool Coroner’s Court.