Mother 'has no memory' of killing newborn baby with scissors

A mother has accepted she stabbed her newborn baby to death with a pair of scissors, but told a jury she had no memory of doing so.

Wednesday, 14th June 2017, 5:18 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th June 2017, 1:55 pm
Tunstill claims she was unaware her pregnancy was virtually full term and thought she was having a miscarriage

Rachel Tunstill, 26, placed the lifeless body of her daughter, Mia Kelly, into carrier bags shortly after giving birth in her bathroom and then placed the baby in the kitchen bin.

Tunstill claims she was unaware her pregnancy was virtually full term and thought she was having a miscarriage at the flat she shared with her partner in Wellington Court, Burnley, Lancashire.

The defendant said her recollection of events on the evening of January 14 was "very hazy" and "unclear".

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She told Preston Crown Court that she checked the baby for signs of life in the bathroom, but found none.

The psychology graduate recalled asking her boyfriend, forklift driver Ryan Kelly, to fetch a pair of scissors in case she needed to cut the cord.

Her barrister, Simon Kealey QC, asked her: "Do you recall what you did, if anything, with the scissors?"

Tunstill replied: "I don't recall doing anything with the scissors apart from putting them on the side."

Mr Kealey said: "Do you accept that when the baby was born you were alone in the bathroom with her?"

She said: "Yes."

Mr Kealey went on: "And do you accept that the baby died as a result of stab wounds?"

Tunstill replied: "Yes."

Her barrister said: "Do you accept it can only be you?"

"Yes," repeated the defendant.

Mr Kealey asked: "Do you have any recollection of doing it?"

Tunstill said: "No, absolutely none."

The defendant said she discovered three days before the birth that she was pregnant and had planned to seek medical assistance the following week.

Tunstill went to Burnley General Hospital on the morning of January 16, where she told staff she was nine weeks' pregnant, had suffered bleeding and was concerned she had had a miscarriage.

On examination, medics found her pregnancy had in fact been very nearly full term as part of the umbilical cord was still attached to the uterus.

Police were called to the hospital and Tunstill was arrested when the baby's remains were found in the bin.

A post-mortem examination found in excess of 15 puncture wounds on Mia's body, with traces of the newborn's blood found on the rivet of the scissors.

Tunstill, a deputy manager at a local residential home for people with mental health issues, denies murder.