Saturday 17 February 2018

Wife abandoned newborn son after concealing pregnancy over 'affair' fear

Leigh-Anne Varley, 36, was handed a suspended jail sentence after she admitted neglect
Leigh-Anne Varley, 36, was handed a suspended jail sentence after she admitted neglect

Tom Wilkinson

A married woman who abandoned her newborn son on a doorstep after concealing her pregnancy has walked free from court after magistrates were told she was worried he was the result of an affair.

Distraught and remorseful Leigh-Anne Varley, 36, was handed a suspended jail sentence after she admitted neglect.

She hid her pregnancy from her husband and two children and gave birth to her son in the bathroom of the family home in Park View, Horden, County Durham, in May.

Varley left the baby wrapped up warmly on a doorstep with a note saying "Please look after my baby."

The boy was found at around 4.45am by a terrier called Zak who alerted his owner. By chance, the baby had been left at the door of the dog owner's partner.

The emergency services were called and the baby was taken to hospital for medical checks where staff initially called him Jack.

Later that day Varley handed herself in to police after a major operation was launched to find her.

She appeared at Peterlee Magistrates' Court where she was handed a 14 week jail term, suspended for a year, and ordered to pay costs of £85, compulsory court costs of £180 and a victim surcharge of £60.

At a previous hearing she admitted she had wilfully ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed a child in a manner to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health.

The court had heard how she feared the break-up of her family if her husband found out she was pregnant.

Sarah Traynor, prosecuting, said Varley told police in interview that she believed her husband was not the father and when she had found out she was pregnant it was too late to have a termination.

The solicitor said: "She was unable to tell her husband because she was fearful of breaking up the family unit. She said she was sure the baby was not her husband's."

Varley had planned to leave the baby at a hospital walk-in centre but left him at nearby flats instead.

After the case, Durham Police urged women who felt desperate to seek help.

A spokeswoman said: "This has been a very sad case for all concerned. We would urge any woman who finds herself in such difficult circumstances to seek help from health professionals and associated agencies sooner rather than later to avoid a potential tragedy."

The baby was left on 52-year-old Janice Clish's doorstep.

At the time, she told reporters: "I had been fast asleep, and I thought I was still dreaming. It was bizarre. I scooped him up and he was crying, gently. I felt so sorry for him, to just see him lying there like that."

Press Association

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