The mother of a baby who was snatched from an Auckland hospital last year says today's sentencing of the abductor helped to close the chapter on the horrifying incident.
Loni Marsh, 27, was jailed for 18 months at Manukau District Court today after earlier admitting to kidnapping a 5-day-old baby from Middlemore Hospital and driving while disqualified.
A 31-year-old man charged with kidnapping previously pleaded not guilty and elected trial by jury.
The baby's mother Elsje Pretorius said today's sentencing had helped to put an end to the unpleasant incident.
"But I can't put a number of years on what we've been through and what we're still going through - it's going to affect us for a long time, especially my children.
"But I'm really, really relieved it's all come to a point. I'm happy."
Her little girl, who is nearly 5 months old was doing well, growing and thriving.
"She's happy and fat and she's with us, so that's the only thing that counts."
Middlemore Hospital staff had been in touch with Ms Pretorius to keep her informed of the improved security measures, which included a guard at the ward and a card access system.
Ms Pretorius had heard from a visitor trying to access the ward to visit a friend that it was now difficult to enter.
The hospital had done enough to improve its security, she said.
Since the kidnapping, Ms Pretorius said there had been difficult moments.
"It's weird - it's one of those things where you think you're fine and then the next moment you feel you're not."
Ms Pretorius gave birth to her daughter, her third, on September 20. The pair returned to Middlemore days later with complications.
About 8pm on September 25, just after visiting hours had finished and family members had left, Mrs Pretorius had a quick shower while the baby was sleeping. Her hospital room had an ensuite and she was just metres away. When she got out of the shower, the baby was gone.
The baby girl was found at a Manurewa property about 4am, safe and well, and was reunited with her parents.
The kidnapping resulted in an improved security policy for Middlemore Hospital's maternity ward.
Phillip Balmer, director of hospital services, said the security review led to urgent recommendations to improve patient safety and security.
Further actions being considered include an alert system that could be activated should a baby and unauthorised person pass through a barrier.
- additional reporting Brendan Manning