Woman admits hiding baby son's body

The house where the body of the baby boy was found. Photo / Simon Baker
The house where the body of the baby boy was found. Photo / Simon Baker

A 27-year-old woman hid the body of her baby boy born in a Christchurch park at the end of a secret pregnancy.

She pleaded guilty to disposing of the body when she appeared in Christchurch District Court today.

She was remanded to June 2 by Judge Michael Crosbie for a psychological report to be prepared for her sentencing.

She was bailed to Christchurch's Hillmorton Hospital, which handles mental health cases.

The woman, who is unemployed, admitted that in July or August last year, she disposed of the dead body of the baby boy with intent to conceal the fact of its birth.

At the request of defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger, interim suppression of name was continued.

Final name suppression may be sought at the sentencing depending on the contents of report.

"I want to protect the situation in the meantime," she said.

Judge Crosbie said: "Given that such reports go to the psychological state and mental health of the defendant, the interests of justice are such that the interim name suppression should continue until the court receives that advice."

Police prosecutor Sergeant John Taylor said the police had no view about the continuation of the suppression order.

Police said the woman became pregnant in late 2008 or early 2009, and gave birth to a baby in July or August last year.

On February 17, the owner of a large rental accommodation property in Hornbrook Street, Waltham, was clearing out the contents of a storage shed on the property used by tenants.

When she was putting items into in a clothing bin at a shopping mall, she found a clothing basket containing a mummified baby's body.

Police inquiries identified the woman as the mother, and she was spoken to the day after the discovery of the body.

She said she had concealed the pregnancy from family, friends, and medical services.

She said she gave birth to a baby boy in a park near her home, without help from anyone else, some time in July or August.

She did not remember what happened at the time of the birth or whether the baby was alive or dead. She had tied the umbilical cord with her shoe lace.

Her first recollection was being home in bed with the baby where she stayed for four days trying to warm it. On the third day, she put it in the laundry basket which she used as a cradle.

On the fourth day, she was aware that her seven-year-old daughter was returning to stay with her so she hid the baby in the laundry basket by zipping it into a large grey bag in the garage and leaving the baby for about two months.

She was later evicted from her house, and because she was aware that she would lose possessions left at the house, she arranged for a friend to store her property, including the baby's body at an address in Hornbrook Street.

Police said: "She claimed that during the following months she went to Hornbrook Street to get her possessions and also stood outside the Christchurch Police Station but couldn't bring herself to go into either place."

The police's summary of facts was not read out in court because a class of school children were in the public gallery observing the session.


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