A heroin addict mum who left her son to die alone in a garden "gasping for breath" due to her "deplorable parenting" has been jailed for 20 years.
Laura Heath, 40, deliberately "prioritised her addiction to heroin and crack cocaine" over her seven-year-old Hakeem Hussain, and fashioned one of his inhalers into a crack pipe to consume the drugs.
Coventry Crown Court was told the young boy – who had been admitted to hospital due to asthma three times in the previous two years – was found in the garden of a house in in Nechells, Birmingham, in near-freezing conditions.
Two ambulances and a paramedic rushed to the scene at 7.30am on 26 November 2017 but the youngster could not be saved.
The jury was told Heath would "source heroin and crack cocaine" as her "first priority in life" ahead of the welfare of her young son.
He was also made to sleep on the sofa in squalid conditions, while his jumper smelled of urine and his school uniform reeked of cigarettes, jurors were told.
Just two days before his death, a school nurse had warned at a child protection conference that Hakeem “could die at the weekend”.
Heath, formerly of Long Acre, Nechells, was staying over at a friend’s flat when Hakeem was found dead at 7.37am.
She later told police she had smoked three bags of heroin – two before Hakeem went to bed at 10.30pm and one afterwards, leaving her in a drug-induced sleep.
Heath had told police after her arrest that Hakeem would go outside for some fresh air if he was ever struggling with his breathing.
She said in her police interview after his death: "I had a funny feeling he had gone out in the night and fell asleep outside."
Toxicology evidence put before the court proved Hakeem had inhaled tobacco smoke in the hours before his death, having also been exposed to heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis through second-hand smoke.
Passing sentence on Heath, Mr Justice Dove said the Hakeem's death was the result of her "catastrophic and deplorable" parenting.
The judge told Heath, who was ordered to serve two-thirds of her sentence before becoming eligible for parole, that the death had occurred after her life “entered a drug-fuelled downward spiral into squalor, chaos and tragedy”.
The judge said: “When Hakeem Hussain died in the early hours of the morning he was only seven-years-old.
“It is clear that in his tragically short life he had been an inspiration of happiness and affection for people who knew him.
“All of that potential for a wonderful and fulfilling life was cut short, extinguished as he collapsed on his own suffocating, clutching a leaf in the garden.
“The truth is that Hakeem died as a result of your deplorable negligence. You had allowed your life to be completely overtaken by your addiction to heroin and cocaine. His death was needless, tragic and a result of your abject failure as his mother.”