A FATHER accused of accidentally suffocating his baby daughter by rolling on to her as they slept on a sofa has been exonerated by a top judge.

The ‘intelligent’ middle class dad came under suspicion after the little girl’s death last year when she was 16 weeks old.

Lancashire County Council pointed the finger at the father and the little girl’s identical twin sister was removed from the family home.

Social workers highlighted the fact that the twins’ older sister – K – had been taken to hospital with a serious head injury in 2011. They argued that the father and the children’s mother ‘knew more than they were saying’ about how K suffered a fractured skull.

However, after an in-depth inquiry, Mr Justice Peter Jackson ruled that the parents were not responsible either for K’s injury or her sister’s death.

He ordered that both K, now aged three, and the surviving twin – L – be restored to their parents’ care.

Describing the couple as ‘very close, intelligent, hard-working and aspirational’, the judge said they were of good character and deserved to be believed.

Social workers claimed that L ‘probably died as a result of her father lying on her when he was sleeping on the same sofa’.

It was suggested that the dad had covered up the baby girl’s ‘accidental suffocation’ by placing her in her rocker after her death. The mother accepted that the ‘ sleeping arrangements on the night of L’s death were ‘not the greatest idea’. But the couple otherwise disputed every part of the council’s case during an eight-day High Court hearing.

The judge said a post-mortem examination had recorded the cause of L’s death as ‘unascertained’.

He accepted that the parents’ account of what happened could not be ‘accepted without question’ and ‘acknowledged the possibility that they have put their heads together to cover up a case of overlaying’.

However, he ruled: “For the father to have placed L in her rocker, knowing that she was moribund, and then gone to bed would be extremely out of character. There is no reliable evidence that he did this.

“My conclusion is that we simply do not know when or why L died. Nor has it been proved that either of the parents knows.

“A finding against the parents would be based on speculation or suspicion, which would be impermissible and wrong.”

The council insisted one or both parents knew how K was injured but they were intent on ‘concealing’ the truth.

But the judge said: “With some hesitation I find that the parents’ account of events can be accepted.”