Woman who left her newborn baby in a bin found guilty of manslaughter

Case a ‘stain on Irish society’, should not have been allowed to happen, says defence counsel

Prosecuting, Ms Fiona Murphy had said that in simple terms the case brought against the accused was one of gross negligence manslaughter.

Prosecuting, Ms Fiona Murphy had said that in simple terms the case brought against the accused was one of gross negligence manslaughter.

 

It took a jury of eight men and four women at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court three and a half hours to deliver a verdict of guilty in the case of a woman accused of the manslaughter of her baby.

On Friday evening, the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was unanimously found guilty of manslaughter, while a majority verdict of guilty was returned for the child neglect charge, which related to the death of the infant in 2018 at Caredoc on Cork Road.

Delivering her closing speech to the jury on Friday morning, Senior Counsel for the Prosecution Ms Fiona Murphy said that in simple terms the case brought against the accused was one of gross negligence manslaughter.

In law, it is accepted that there is a duty of care owed by a mother to her child. The prosecution put forward that the accused breached this duty and the accused’s negligence was a substantial cause of the baby’s death.

Ms Murphy said the prosecution’s case that the placing of the baby in the bin, walking away and not mentioning it, was the substantial cause of death of the baby.

Whether she decided to conceal or deny the pregnancy, Ms Murphy argued, that it was not a defence to placing the baby in the bin.

‘Clear evidence’

Before the birth of the baby at Caredoc, there was clear evidence that the accused’s mother was making serious efforts to encourage her daughter to engage with medical professionals, but she failed or refused to do so, counsel said.

There was also evidence of a supportive relationship between the two despite certain texts brought before the jury.

Regarding the Caredoc visit with her mother and grandmother, Ms Murphy said CCTV evidence showed that the accused was only in the toilet for 13 minutes and within that time she gave birth and the baby was placed in a metal bin with bloody tissues over her.

She went back to the consultation room but nothing was mentioned to her mother or Dr Adel Abdulrazak, who referred her to University Hospital Waterford (UHW).

The clock was ticking and the baby was in the bin for 30 minutes by the time the accused and her mother arrived at UHW.

She denied the birth and engaged in a fiction that she was 25 weeks pregnant. Dr Annie O’Leary informed Dr Catherine McNestry, and somewhere between 6am and 7am they discovered the account given wasn’t true.

At 7.30am gardaí were notified and they sealed off the bloodstained bathroom and searched the drains based on the account given by the accused that she bled into the toilet.

When Sergeant Maureen Neary of the vulnerable victims unit and Detective Garda Deirdre O’Mahony arrived to the hospital shortly after 9am the accused gave a detailed statement, while knowing the baby is at the bottom of a bin for a number of hours, Ms Murphy said.

At 1.25pm gardaí discovered the body of the full-term baby when the contents of the bin were emptied. After being informed of the discovery the accused gives a second short statement to Det Gda O’Mahony.

‘Ring of truth’

Ms Murphy asked the jury to look at that statement as being the only statement that “has a ring of truth about it”, adding that the interviews after her arrest the following August were “self-serving”.

There was no adequate explanation as to why no help was sought by the woman, when assistance would have been only 10 seconds away in the Caredoc building, she said.

Ciaran O’Loughlin SC, defending, described the case as a “unhappy and tragic” one. He argued that virtually everyone, bar the accused, knew that she was pregnant. On every occasion she denied the pregnancy, nothing was done by anyone around her.

Mr O’Loughlin was critical of the timing of the woman’s initial statement which taken at the hospital. He said his client was still in denial and must have been in a state of distress, yet statements were taken over the course of almost six hours.

The case, he said, was a “stain on Irish society and a stain on Waterford” and should not have been allowed to happen.

“You are being asked to lump the blame of this tragedy in its entirety onto [THE ACCUSED’S]shoulders,” he said to the jury, adding it wouldn’t be an appropriate thing to do.

Charging the jury before they began their deliberations, Judge Eugene O’Kelly summarised the evidence and instructed them to concentrate on what occurred at the Caredoc office, explaining the allegations centred on the actions of the accused.

According to the judge there was a great deal of periphery evidence heard during the two week trial, which went to the credibility of the witnesses, but had nothing to do with what the State had to prove. He told the jury to leave emotions to one side and deal with the evidence in a cold and clinical way.

The case returns on January 11th, 2022, for sentencing.