Australia water polo player guilty of murdering infant daughter
Published 13/12/2010 | 17:11
A former Australian champion water polo player has been found guilty of murdering her newborn daughter because she feared it would prevent her from competing in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
At the end of a long-running case, Keli Lane, 35, was convicted of killing Tegan Lane just two days after the infant was born in 1996.
Mark Tedeschi, QC, the senior crown prosecutor, claimed Lane had killed the child because she feared the baby would dent her "golden girl" reputation and "undoubtedly put a dent in her overriding sporting ambitions." Ms Lane also had "a very active social and sex life" that she wanted to preserve, he said.
Lane told police she had given the baby to her father, a man she named as Andrew Norris or Andrew Morris. She claimed that they had had a short and clandestine affair and that she had handed the baby over to him and his girlfriend shortly after leaving a Sydney hospital after the birth.
However, despite a nationwide search, Australian police could find no evidence that the man existed, and concluded that he was a fabrication made up to suit her story.
Lane had not told her family about the pregnancy and, hours after leaving hospital and disposing of the baby, attended a wedding with friends, where she failed to mention anything about the birth or her daughter.
Lane concealed another four pregnancies from her family, two of which went to full term. Those babies, one born before Tegan and one born after, were both adopted.
Tegan's body has never been found.
While the prosecution could not suggest how Lane murdered the infant or how she disposed of her body, they said her claim that she had handed the baby over to her father was "inherently unbelievable".
Following the jury's verdict, which took a week to arrive at, Lane shouted "Oh no!" and banged her head on the desk before collapsing on the floor of the New South Wales Supreme courtroom bleeding. An ambulance was called to treat her, and judge Anthony Whealy briefly adjourned proceedings.
Her family was also stunned by the verdict, her mother and brother sobbed in the public gallery. Emotion was also high among the jurors, many of whom had tears in their eyes.
Justice Whealy said he had "great sympathy" for Lane. She will be sentenced on Feb 25.
Outside court, John Borovnik, the community services worker who first reported Tegan missing, said justice had been done.
"Tegan never had a voice, it's in memory of Tegan," he said.
In 1999, after the birth of her third child, Lane admitted to Mr Borovnik that she had had a child three years earlier. She claimed the girl was living in Perth, but, after investigations, Mr Borovnik reported Tegan as a missing person to police.
Police interviewed Lane in 2003 and 2004, later posting a notice on schoolfriends.com looking for Andrew Norris. An inquest into the case in 2005 concluded that the child was most likely dead. Searches for the body in 2008 found nothing and in 2009 Lane was charged with murder.