Charges over baby dumping


Crime scene  the Pacific Highway site last week.

Crime scene the Pacific Highway site last week.
Photo: Dean Osland
Alex Tibbitts and Dan Proudman
December 11, 2007

THE mother of a newborn found dead in a vacant lot in a Newcastle suburb last week was charged yesterday with concealing a birth by disposing of the body.

Strike Force Milduri detectives interviewed the 33-year-old at Charlestown police station before laying the charges. She had been released from the James Fletcher psychiatric facility, where she was taken for assessment after the boy's body was found in Belmont North on Tuesday.

She was granted conditional bail to appear at Belmont Local Court on January 17.

The body was wrapped in a towel and placed in a shopping bag. It had been there for at least a day. The woman gave birth on Sunday in a nearby hotel, where large quantities of blood were found.

An autopsy was carried out last week to determine whether the baby was stillborn, was dead before he was dumped or was possibly still alive when the bag was placed under a pine tree within metres of the Pacific Highway.

A spokesman said police were waiting for the report, after which other charges may follow.

The father was interviewed by police but not charged.

The mother's four other children are in the care of the Department of Community Services, which had tried unsuccessfully to contact the family the night before the body was found after receiving a request for emergency accommodation.

The department's director-general, Dr Neil Shepherd, said he could not say whether the family was known to the department while the police investigation was continuing.