A woman who kidnapped a newborn baby from hospital to convince her partner she had given birth has been banned from having unsupervised access to babies and young children.
Neha Narayan, who snatched a baby from Middlemore Hospital in January, was this morning sentenced in the High Court at Auckland to two years of intensive supervision and 200 hours of community work.
The court heard Narayan, 25, suffered a miscarriage about six months before the abduction on January 4.
As a result of relationship problems and mental health issues, she pretended she was still pregnant and even bought clothes and other items for a baby.
When her partner asked about the birth about the time he thought she was due, Narayan "went into a state of panic'', Justice Peter Woodhouse told the court.
She asked her partner to drive her to the hospital and later phoned him to say she had given birth.
She made the call to her partner as she was walking out of the hospital with newborn Tamneet Kaur.
The child's mother, Sandeep Kaur, was reunited with her daughter within minutes but the ordeal left her traumatised.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Ms Kaur said she feared her child would be stolen again after she returned home from hospital.
"It was the worst feeling you can imagine,'' she said.
Ms Kaur she came from India where she knew of cases where babies had been taken from their mothers and never seen again. She didn't expect such an experience in New Zealand.
"I was frantic. When I returned home I was scared someone would take my baby. When the community midwife came around I didn't trust her. She didn't have any ID and I told her to go away.''
Justice Woodhouse ordered Narayan be subject to psychiatric and psychological treatment for "complex mental health issues''.
He said Narayan had sincere remorse and there was "no evil intent'' or possible financial gain from her offending.
Justice Woodhouse said the offence would typically attract a jail sentence. However he said intensive supervision would allow Narayan to get help for her mental health issues.
He made several special conditions for her supervision, including that she undergoes psychiatric treatment and has no access to any place where she would be unsupervised around babies or young children.
"Subject to your receiving of the appropriate treatment, the risk of this ever happening again is very low,'' Justice Woodhouse said.