Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Mother tells of pain after baby stolen

Sandeep Kaur had heard of kidnappings in India but was shocked it could happen here

Sandeep Kaur with 8-month-old daughter Tamneet, who was kidnapped hours after her birth. Photo / Richard Robinson
Sandeep Kaur with 8-month-old daughter Tamneet, who was kidnapped hours after her birth. Photo / Richard Robinson

The mother of a newborn baby kidnapped from her hospital crib has described her terror at thinking the child was gone forever.

Tamneet Kaur was a few hours old when she was bundled into blankets and taken from Middlemore Hospital in Auckland on January 4 this year.

Neha Narayan, 25, was caught in the hospital carpark, and last week pleaded guilty to a single charge of kidnapping.

Tamneet's mother, Sandeep Kaur, said she was terrified when she realised her baby had been snatched by a stranger, and dreaded what could have happened had Narayan got away.

"I was thinking I'd lost my baby. It's something you can only feel as a mother. No one can realise what it's like, only a mother."

Police said Narayan had been planning the abduction for days, spending time at the hospital's birthing unit and maternity ward, even buying baby clothes and toys in preparation.

The Kaur family, originally from India, said they had heard stories of babies being kidnapped from hospitals in their homeland, but they never expected it to happen in New Zealand.

Tamneet's aunt Surinder Kaur said the baby's father arrived at the hospital shortly after she was born and asked where he could find the mother and child. Narayan was listening to the conversation, she said.

She also described how Narayan stood beside the father in the lift as he made his way to the maternity ward then approached Sandeep, pretending to be related to another new mum in the ward.

"She came twice and asked to carry the baby girl because she said she wanted to show her sister-in-law."

Surinder said Narayan made her move when the baby's father went to the television room.

Family members rushed to the woman Narayan pretended to be related to, only to find out they had been lied to and the baby was missing.

"They thought, 'Oh my God.' They told a nurse immediately and checked everywhere but no one found her until another nurse saw Neha taking the baby into the lift."

Sandeep was "screaming and crying" as family members and hospital staff rushed after Narayan and the baby, said Surinder.

Narayan got into her partner's car. He was reversing and about to leave when a nurse stopped him. When questioned, Narayan maintained it was her baby. It is thought she told her partner she was pregnant and he was unaware of her plan.

Sandeep said she was now less trusting of people. "What she did is totally wrong. I can't forgive her but I'm happy because I've got my beautiful, chubby baby."

Middlemore Hospital has improved security since the abduction.

- APNZ

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