Newborn baby death still a mystery

INQUEST: Rev Jim Percival is on bail

INQUEST: Rev Jim Percival is on bail

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  • Ruth Percival gave birth to a baby boy last November but he was pronounced dead soon after
  • A police investigation was launched and Ms Percival and Mr Percival were arrested
  • Both Ms Percival and Mr Percival have since been bailed
  • The police investigation is ongoing
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Mystery still surrounds the death of a newborn baby whose short life sparked a major police inquiry.

Mystery still surrounds the death of a newborn baby whose short life sparked a major police inquiry.

The first question for me to establish as to whether a coroner has jurisdiction. There has to have been a child alive post delivery, so this needs to be clarified as soon as possible.

Alan Wilson

A coroner called in to investigate the death of Jonathan Percival has revealed that despite three post mortems taking place and five months passing, the medical cause of death is not yet known.

Mother Ruth Percival gave birth to the baby boy at around 3am on November 25 last year, but he was pronounced dead soon after.

A police investigation was launched and Ms Percival and her parents were arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child.

Her father, Rev Jim Percival, led the Holy Trinity Church in Freckleton, close to their Sunnyside home.

Ms Percival, 28, and Mr Percival, 65, have since been bailed by police until July 6.

A 66-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child has now been released with no further action.

At a review into an inquest into the death of baby Jonathan, held at Blackpool Town Hall yesterday, senior coroner Alan Wilson revealed there were delays to the inquiry.

He said: “A Home Office post mortem was requested and undertaken by a Home Office pathologist in conjunction with a paediatric pathologist and, in due course, a further post mortem was undertaken.

“We haven’t yet received the post mortem report.”

The coroner’s court heard that one of the pathologists being signed off work was causing a delay to reports being filed to the inquest.

Mr Wilson added: “We’re now five months or so from the inquest commencing and people don’t know the medical cause of death yet.

“The first question for me to establish as to whether a coroner has jurisdiction. There has to have been a child alive post delivery, so this needs to be clarified as soon as possible.”

The coroner said that police were also awaiting the post mortem report.

The inquest was adjourned and is set to be heard again, pending the ongoing police investigation, on June 3.