A YOUNG Oldbury father who made a "reckless mistake" and gave his six-month old baby boy morphine instead of a child's medicine has kept his freedom.

Judge John Wait at Wolverhampton Crown Court said when the baby was quickly admitted to Sandwell Hospital it was clear Dale Davies had

sought to save himself rather than the child by telling lies about what happened.

He told 22-year-old Davies: "The harm you caused could have been fatal but happily, some time after the event, you admitted what happened."

Davies, who was 19 at the time, rushed the baby to hospital with the child's 17-year-old mother after the toddler

became "floppy" - the court was told.

Harbinder Lally, prosecuting, said Davies - a man of previous good character - clearly knew what had taken place but he failed to tell the truth to medical staff. That made it more difficult for them to treat the baby who could have been killed by the mistake, said Mr Lally.

The baby had been drowsy and not feeding, he went on, but Davies did not immediately reveal what had happened

before finally making a full admission.

He later told police officers: "I was not as careful as I should have been. I gave him the wrong medication."

The child was discharged from hospital after just one night and tests later revealed he had morphine in his

system but he went on to make a full recovery.

The defendant did not normally administer medication for his son because he was dyslexic and at the time the

mother was at work, the court was told.

The morphine had been prescribed for Davies' father and he had left it at the fifth floor Oldbury flat where it was

kept next to the Calpol - the child's medicine.

Davies, of Wallace Road, Oldbury, pleaded guilty to ill-treating a child and the judge sentenced him to nine months

imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to do 120 hours unpaid work.

Samantha Powis, defending, said there was "panic" when Davies realised what he had done and she added: "It was a reckless mistake and he did not have the courage to immediately own up. There can be no doubt he loves his children."

The court was told the mother was pregnant at the time and she had given birth to a second son.

The two children were now with foster parents but they were seen on a regular basis by Davies and his former partner who no longer lived together.