MOTHERS have been warned about the dangers of sleeping with their babies after the death of an eight-week-old boy.

An inquest into the death of Joel Spencer Nicholas heard how he was put to sleep beside his mother, Alison Peace, on the sofa at their home.

PC Fiona Dack told a York inquest how last October, Miss Peace, a mother of four, had been drinking at the house with a friend and was "tipsy, but not drunk" after five cans of lager.

After her friend went home, Miss Peace, of Acomb, York, fed Joel and put him to sleep at the back of the couch while she watched television before she went to sleep at the front of the sofa.

At about 8am the next day, Miss Peace woke and picked Joel up, but he was not breathing, so she ran with him to a neighbour to get help.

Miss Peace was not at the inquest, but as part of her police statement read out by PC Dack, she said: "I was not aware I had rolled on top of him, but I must have."

Professor Christopher Millroy, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said Joel could have died from sudden infant death syndrome because he was sleeping with his mother and could have got into difficulty breathing.

He could not say if he had suffocated.

Coroner Donald Coverdale said: "One can perhaps note some lessons from instances such as this.

"It would seem that a young child sleeping with an adult on a settee is not advisable."

An open verdict was recorded.