Case against Irish woman for concealing birth dropped

Baby died after woman gave birth alone in Western Australia town last May

The case against an Irish woman who was accused of unlawfully concealing the birth of a child in Western Australia has been dropped.

The woman (25), had been travelling through the remote Kimberley region with friends while on a working holiday visa and had not realised she was pregnant.

She gave birth alone in the town of Halls Creek last May, but the baby died.

It had been alleged that the woman hid the newborn and did not tell her friends what had happened for several days. When they found out, she was taken to hospital, where staff notified police.

The law requires all births to be reported, even if the baby died of natural causes. Concealing the birth of a child in Western Australia carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

The state’s major crime squad was called in to investigate the death and subsequently charged the woman.

But today lawyers representing the director of public prosecutions told Perth Magistrates Court that it was not in the public interest to pursue the case.

The woman was not present in court. In August she was allowed to return to Ireland until her case was due to begin. At the time the court heard there were "serious concerns" for her welfare.

Her barrister, Karen Farley SC, applied for the removal of a bail condition which required the woman to surrender her passport so she could return home.

Ms Farley said her client "needs to be with her family and their support". The woman's mother had been in Perth to support her daughter.

The police opposed the change to the woman's bail conditions, but Chief Magistrate Steven Heath said it should be allowed because "the medical reports I have indicate serious concerns for [the woman's] welfare, without continued support from family".

He said that, without trivialising the matter, nothing more serious was alleged than the concealing of the birth.

Mr Heath said there were “no issues of reoffending” and the only question was whether the woman would return for her trial, noting that Australia has extradition arrangements with Ireland.