The Independent

Woman who killed baby is spared jail

By Arifa Akbar
The Independent

12 December 2001

A teenager who killed the baby she conceived after being raped was spared imprisonment by an Old Bailey judge yesterday.

The 19-year-old student, who pleaded guilty to infanticide, did not disclose the rape to anyone after the attack during a college trip and refused to believe she had become pregnant. Reared in a strict household, the teenager from London hoped the pregnancy would "magically disappear".

The court was told that it was not until the baby's head appeared that the student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, accepted she was giving birth. The baby was born secretly on 29 February, after the young woman went into labour alone in her bedroom.

Kim Hollis, for the defence, said the shock of the birth was so great for the woman that she was driven into a state of terror at the possibility of being rejected by her family. The student threw the infant from her first-floor window into the garden next door, where a neighbour discovered the body two days later.

Ms Hollis said the student had decided not to go ahead with a rape case against the baby's father because she could not face further trauma.

She was as much a victim as her baby, Ms Hollis said. The court was told the woman was haunted by her inability to remember the baby's face or whether she had held the infant. Despite the young woman's anxieties about her family's disapproval, they were said to have been supportive.

Judge Hyam, the Recorder of London, placed the woman under a community rehabilitation order for 18 months. He said he accepted a doctor's report that the pregnancy had caused her a great deal of suffering."This is on any view a tragic case. You have already suffered a great deal," he said.

2001 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd