A coroner today repeated warnings to parents about letting their children sleep in their beds after the death of a baby.

County coroner Nicholas Gardiner said he hoped lessons learned from the "tragic case" of eight-month-old Reece Cooper might prevent another "unfortunate child" suffering the same fate.

Reece was found by police officers lying face down on his parents' bed in Agnes Court, Cowley.

Oxford Coroner's Court heard Reece's parents, Keeley Bailey 21, and James Cooper, 27, had left their child with a babysitter while Ms Bailey went out with friends and Mr Cooper went out on a stag do on Friday, June 8, last year.

After Mr Cooper returned, police went to the flat to arrest him over an allegation of attempted rape and discovered Reece.

Pc Paul Coleman told the court: "As I entered the bedroom I could see a baby lying face down on top of the quilt."

He said Mr Cooper was in the bed but had not woken up.

Pc Coleman said: "I said to Mr Cooper 'I'm going to pick up your baby' and as I did so it was unresponsive and I could see it wasn't breathing."

Although he began resuscitating the baby and its chest began rising, Reece later died at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital on June 9.

Pc Stephen Simpson said: "While we were at the flat Mr Cooper appeared groggy and shocked by it all and kept saying 'what's wrong with my baby?' He smelt of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet."

Ds Andy Heelas, officer in charge of the investigation, said: "The case was looked at by senior prosecutors at the Crown Prosecution Service who felt Mr Cooper had no criminal allegations to answer."

Mr Cooper said: "I finally returned to the flat at about 1am.

"Reece was still in his cot, the babysitter left and I went to bed. I'd had a fair amount to drink.

"Reece got grizzly in the night so I put him inside my bed, between me and a pillow on the edge of the bed.

"The next thing I knew the police had come to arrest me. That's when I saw Reece was purple and they took me to the police station."

Prof Rupert Risdon, consultant paediatric pathologist at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, said: "Despite a full investigation I failed to identify a specific cause of death.

"There was no evidence of injury which might have caused or contributed to his death, but a child this age bed-sharing with an adult who smokes and has drunk alcohol are recognised risk factors in sudden unexpected death in infancy."

In reaching the verdict of sudden unexpected death in infancy, Mr Gardiner said: "Mr Cooper had been drinking a considerable amount and while his account of what happened differs to that of the police officers, there was certainly no deliberate ill treatment of Reece."

He added: "Sudden deaths have fallen dramatically in the last few years because there has been much publicity about factors such as smoking, drinking and co-sleeping, which can add to the risk.

"I am not throwing stones at Reece's parents, but I'm just trying to ensure this won't happen to another unfortunate child."