Trial hears body of full-term baby girl discovered in bathroom’ bin at Caredoc
THE trial of a young woman, accused of manslaughter of her newborn baby after her body was discovered in a Caredoc bin, entered its second week before Waterford Circuit Criminal Court this (Tuesday) morning.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty when arraigned last week to a charge of manslaughter in 2018 at Caredoc on the Cork Road. She also denied a charge of child neglect on the same date.
Giving evidence, Garda Alan Magner, who was on duty as a dispatcher in the divisional communications room, stated that he received a call from Lee O’Brien in University Hospital Waterford (UHW). He was asked to contact the Gardaí by Dr Catherine McNestry to report that a female had presented with symptoms of having completed a full-term pregnancy, but there was no sign of the baby.
Dr McNestry informed him that the woman had presented at Caredoc offices on the Cork Road in Waterford in severe pain prior to coming to hospital. She was asked by Caredoc Dr Adel Abdulrazak to provide a urine sample and when she came back from the toilets her pain was gone.
Garda Magner said his concern was for the child and formed the opinion that the most likely place to find the baby was in the bathroom. He called Caredoc and asked them to check the bathroom. A substantial amount of blood staining was found, but there was no immediate sign of anything else. Garda Magner asked them not to touch anything in the bathroom. He dispatched Gardaí to the hospital and uniformed officers to the Caredoc offices.
TJ Dunford, Interim Head of Primary Care Operations and Community Operations, was informed that a crime scene had been set up at Caredoc at the HSE building on the Cork Road, by Susan Murphy, who heads up primary care services in the Waterford area. Mr Dunford went to Waterford Garda Station and was asked by Garda Hickey for drainage systems to be opened. Mr Dunford instructed the technical services team to attend, but nothing of evidential value was found. Mr Dunford wasn’t sure at what stage he was told that they were searching for a newborn infant.
Inspector Donal Donohue spoke to the Caredoc doctor, Dr Adel Abdulrazak, who had seen the defendant. Dr Abdulrazak informed him that he had asked the woman to provide him with a urine sample. Inspector Donohue went to inspect the ladies bathroom at Caredoc, which was being preserved at the time. The Inspector noted blood staining on the toilet seat, the sink and two bins in the bathroom. He looked inside one bin and saw blood stained tissue. He didn’t interfere with the contents, but he lifted the bin up and noted that it was heavy. “At the time I was looking for a sign of life and there was no sign,” he said.
Outside the toilet a plastic bag was placed on the floor. Garda Aidan Slattery, Scenes of Crime Examiner, emptied the contents of the second of the two bins and discovered the body of a baby girl.
‘Upset and shocked’
Under cross examination by Paul W Hutchinson BL, Garda Slattery said they knew they were looking for remains of a baby at some stage of development, but was “upset and shocked” when the baby was discovered in the bin.
Superintendent Anthony Lonergan observed blood stained tissues and the body of the infant when the bin was emptied. The infant appeared to the Superintendent to be full-term.
Shortly after 1.30pm Fr Fitzgerald administered the last rites to the baby, while Dr Sean McBrinn of Waterford Medical Centre confirmed she was deceased. The body of the baby girl was transferred to the morgue at UHW by Luke Hennessy Funeral Directors, accompanied by Gardaí.
A post mortem was carried out by Dr Michael Curtis, former Deputy State Pathologist, who the jury had heard evidence from last week. Superintendent Lonergan spoke with Dr Curtis and informed him that the mother wished to change the name given to the baby by Fr Fitzgerald when he christened her.
Dr Tadhg O’Carroll, St Philomena’s Doctors Practice, recalled how the defendant had visited him in the months prior. The family doctor stated that it wasn’t a pregnancy related visit, but for a respiratory infection that she required antibiotics for. Under cross examination, the GP said he was aware of two previous visits to nurse Ruth Flynn made by the defendant to the practice in the days before. When asked if he had noticed anything that might have suggested that she was pregnant, Dr O’Carroll said he hadn’t as she was wearing baggy clothes.
Negative pregnancy tests
Practice nurse Ruth Flynn gave evidence of two consultations where two pregnancy tests returned with negative results. On the first occasion the defendant and her mother attended. The mother expressed concern that her daughter was pregnant. Nurse Flynn tested the sample and it proved negative. The defendant declined a blood test. She advised both mother and daughter to talk at home. Some days later the defendant returned again on her own and a pregnancy test was repeated. That too was negative.
Under cross examination by Ciaran O’Loughlin, SC, Nurse Flynn said the mother was adamant her daughter was pregnant, and as her mother the nurse felt she would know her daughter better. She advised them to have a heart to heart.
The trial continues tomorrow (Wednesday).