Death of dumped newborn baby will remain mystery

MYSTERY will always surround the death of a newborn baby who was found dumped in a town's cemetery, an inquest has heard.

Russell Claydon

MYSTERY will always surround the death of a newborn baby who was found dumped in a town's cemetery, an inquest has heard.

Several medical experts could not agree on exactly how the boy, who was found inside a plastic bag pushed into a fir tree in Bury St Edmunds, died.

An inquest, held at the Active Business Centre in the town yesterday, returned an open verdict and an unascertained cause of death.

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But Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean said he was satisfied social services had learned lessons from the events that led to the tragic events.

Details of the family and the baby cannot be printed for legal reasons, but the inquest heard how the mother, who had a history of concealed pregnancies, and her partner were initially arrested by police following a tip-off from the school her other children go to that something was not right on July 6, 2007.

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On questioning, the mother initially denied she had been pregnant but broke down and led officers to the cemetery where the baby boy was found.

A case brought by the Crown Prosecution Service for allegedly concealing a birth was later dropped due to the state of the mother's mental health, which she is still receiving treatment for, the hearing was told.

The mother had told officers she believed the baby to be dead when she delivered and had hidden it in the cellar without her partner's knowledge before taking it to the cemetery alone the next day.

Three separate examinations of the body could not identify whether the baby died as a result of a large quantity of painkillers the mother had taken or from a streptococcal infection in her genital tract. Experts could also not agree whether the baby was alive when it was born.

The inquest also heard from Cliff James, head of safeguarding for Suffolk County Council's children's services department, who said a new multi-agency approach to such cases had been put in place since this incident. He said the department had been involved in the case and the woman was known to them previously but she had strongly refuted she was pregnant.

Dr Dean said: “It is important agencies look at this and lessons be learned from this rare but tragic set of events.”

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