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Woman charged with hiding body of newborn in Oz

A YOUNG Irish woman 
travelling in Australia has been charged with hiding the body of her newborn baby.

The backpacker was travelling in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia with friends, and apparently did not realise she was pregnant.

It's been reported that she was alone in the town of Halls Creek when she gave birth in May.

The case has now come to light because the woman has made an appearance in court in Australia.

It will be alleged that the woman hid the body of the newborn baby and kept the news to herself.

friends

Several days after giving birth, she told friends.

She was taken to hospital, and staff then informed the police.

Its major crime squad were then called in to investigate the baby's death.

Police in western Australia have confirmed that the woman was charged with "concealing the birth of a child that died before or after birth".

She has already appeared before Kununurra Magistrates Court, where the case was referred to Perth Magistrates Court.

The woman will appear in court there in October. She has not entered a plea at this stage.

If found guilty, she could face a maximum penalty of two years in jail. She has been ordered to remain in Perth while the case is ongoing.

All births have to be reported in Australia, even if the baby does not survive or passes away from natural causes.

Criminal Lawyers Association president Linda Black told ABC News that the charge the woman is facing is "rarely used".

"I can't recall the last time I heard of anyone being charged with this," she said.

However, she added that: "It's a charge that is certainly not unique to Western Australia.

"Without wanting to trivialise it, we just can't have people storing dead bodies all over the place without it being brought to the attention of the authorities and dealt with an a proper and formal way.

"So I think there's a strong public policy behind it," she added.

Police in western Australia are reportedly allowed some discretion in cases of stillbirths.

Ms Black said the police need to ask themselves two questions before they charge someone.

First, is there a reasonable chance of conviction; and second, is it in the public interest to charge them, and that requires them to weigh up a whole 
degree of factors.

fdillon@herald.ie


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