Mother admits smothering her baby

Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 14:04 GMT

A young woman has admitted smothering her newborn son at her parents' home in Moray last year.
House cordoned off in Buckie
The house in Buckie where the baby's body was found

Beverley West, 21, admitted culpable homicide at the house in the Portessie area of Buckie on 19 March.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that she had kept the pregnancy secret from her parents and told her boyfriend that she had undergone a termination.

Judge Lord Hodge allowed West to remain on bail pending sentence next month and called for background reports.

Advocate depute Angela Grahame, prosecuting, told how West thought she may be pregnant two months after starting a relationship with a man who lived locally.

When she told her boyfriend they agreed she should have an abortion - but neither of them told their parents what had happened.

" Miss West was afraid of her parents' reaction "
Angela Grahame
Advocate depute

"Miss West was afraid of her parents' reaction," said Ms Grahame, although she did confide in a friend.

By the time West went to see her doctor she was 20 weeks pregnant - too late to have an abortion.

Ms Grahame said that West was advised to tell her parents as soon as possible and given an appointment to see the local community midwives.

"She failed to keep any appointment with the midwives and although letters were sent to her she did not respond to them," Ms Grahame said.

"She began to show signs of being pregnant and began to wear baggy clothes.

Mother 'panicked'

"Miss West subsequently told her boyfriend that she had had a termination."

Police and social workers were alerted when West failed to attend another appointment at her local health centre.

At first, West told police she had gone to Florida with a friend to have an abortion and produced a scrap of paper showing the name of a clinic there.

But later in Buckie police station she said: "I did it. I panicked. I did it. I killed it, I panicked.

West appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh
West appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh

"I had the baby. I killed it. It's in the bedroom."

The baby's body was found in a pine wardrobe, wrapped in fleecy pink pyjamas.

Ms Grahame said West was found to suffer from a number of problems such as "avoidant personality disorder", anxiety, agoraphobia and panic attacks.

The Crown accepted that West's ability to control her actions was "substantially impaired" at the time of the killing and this was why she faced a charge of culpable homicide, Ms Grahame said.

Defence QC Jack Davidson said he would speak on West's behalf when she returned to court to be sentenced.