Mother killed newborn baby in 'chillingly deliberate act', court told

A newborn baby was killed by her mother in a "chilling" deliberate act after her birth in a farm outbuilding, a court has heard.

Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 2:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 3:50 pm
Mother killed newborn baby in 'chillingly deliberate act', court told

Hannah Cobley, who had concealed her pregnancy from family and friends, is alleged to have inflicted severe head injuries on the infant and sealed her inside three plastic bags despite signs that she may still have been alive.

Prosecutors claim the 29-year-old abandoned the child's body in an overgrown area at the farm, where she lived with her parents and cousin in Stoney Stanton, Leicestershire.

Cobley, whose father owns a transport business and also keeps livestock on the farm, denies murdering the newborn in the early hours of April 26 2017.

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Mother killed newborn baby in 'chillingly deliberate act', court told

The defendant, who left grammar school aged 15 and has worked as a driver for her father's firm, claims her recollection is that the baby was stillborn.

Opening the case against Cobley at Leicester Crown Court, prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC told jurors: "This case concerns the death of a newborn baby girl following a concealed pregnancy and a clandestine or hidden birth.

"Neither the father of the child, whose identity is unknown, nor the mother's family and friends were aware of the pregnancy, which was the product of a consensual one-night-stand."

The birth of the infant took place between 2am and 2.45am, Mr Hankin said, into the bowl of an outside toilet at the farm.

Internet searches which Cobley accepts making included one at 3.31am reading "how long can a newborn last without milk in the freezing cold" and another at 5.06am asking "when a baby is born how long can it survive without being fed".

Mr Hankin told the jury of five women and seven men: "Miss Cobley gave birth to a living child.

"Although premature at 32 weeks' gestation - roughly seven months - she was a normal healthy baby.

"If Miss Cobley had brought her pregnancy to the attention of midwife care prior to the delivery, she would most likely have ensured that her baby was delivered in good condition."

Further alleging that the baby was very likely to have survived if Cobley had alerted her parents to summon an ambulance, Mr Hankin added: "Miss Cobley did nothing to ensure her baby lived.

"On the contrary, the prosecution case is that Miss Cobley, with chilling clarity of purpose, deliberately and intentionally killed her baby.

"First, she silenced the baby's cries by forcing something into her throat, which was later found to have caused injuries in that location.

"Then she assaulted the baby causing very severe head injuries.

"Finally, despite recognising that the baby might still be alive, she sealed the baby inside three plastic bags - layered, one on top of the other - and abandoned her body in an overgrown area of garden behind one of the farm outbuildings.

"Post-mortem examinations subsequently revealed that, disturbingly, the baby had survived her injuries for two hours or more before dying."

The first day of Cobley's trial was told she accepts medical evidence proves that the baby was born alive, but she claims her recollection is that the infant was stillborn.

The court heard Cobley is said to have acted normally before she was admitted to hospital three days after the birth, when she she suffered a collapse due to complications.

Jurors were also told the defendant does not admit an intention cause serious injury, and may raise a partial defence of infanticide, an alternative verdict to murder where a mother kills her child while her mind is disturbed by a failure to recover from the effects of childbirth.

Claiming that Cobley's actions had been rational, Mr Hankin told the court: "The prosecution says that there is no evidence that at the time of the killing the balance of Miss Cobley's mind was disturbed.

"It cannot be said that the balance of the defendant's mind was disturbed by reason of a failure to recover from the effects of childbirth in circumstances where the killing was planned in advance of giving birth."

The trial continues.