A mum who killed her newborn baby and dumped the body in a park just hours after giving birth has avoided jail.
Babita Rai, 24, crushed the newborn’s skull and by giving repeated blows to her head, she caused “significant” and fatal fractures.
Hours after giving birth beside a tree, she left her child’s body in Manor Park in Aldershot, Hampshire.
A gardener at the park discovered the child’s body in undergrowth some four days later, initially thinking it was a “child’s doll”.
A jury cleared the Nepali woman of murder but found her guilty of the lesser charge of infanticide.
After spending more than a year in custody since her initial arrest, Rai was today told he was “free to leave” by a judge at Winchester Crown Court.
She was ordered to undertake two years of community work and rehabilitation activity for 30 days.
Mr Justice Johnson said Rai – who did not have a partner – was under “intolerable pressure” as her family would have regarded the baby as a “curse not a blessing”.
During her trial earlier this year the court heard Rai, who was 20 at the time, was around six months pregnant when she entered the UK from Nepal in February 2017.
However, she concealed her pregnancy from border officials, her GP, and colleagues at a restaurant she worked at.
The court heard the baby was born alive at 35 weeks gestation on the night of May 15, 2017, weighing 4lbs 12oz.
Her dead body was found in Manor Park in Aldershot, the town where Rai was living.
In his opening, prosecutor Adam Feest QC said: “Within a very short time of birth, the baby suffered multiple fractures to her skull with associated internal bleeding and brain swelling.
“Expert evidence indicates these were the result of multiple blunt force impacts and or significant crush injuries.
“Howsoever caused, they were deliberately inflicted injuries and could not have been sustained by the baby accidentally, either during the process of labour, even a traumatic one, or afterwards, for example the baby falling on the floor.
“The baby girl survived the injuries for perhaps between two and 12 hours, the likelihood being closer to two than 12. Expert evidence suggests when she died she was less than six hours old.”
Rai denied charges of murder and infanticide at her trial.
Michael Turner QC, defending, said she was suffering from PTSD at the time and has no memory of the incident.
He said: “A lack of memory goes hand in hand with someone whose balance of mind was disturbed.
“She can’t plead guilty to something she can’t remember but she’s not shirking away from her responsibilities.”
Judge Johnson described Rai as “a young woman living in a patriarchal society in Nepal” but when she came to give birth “the psychological trauma” from which she had been suffering “came to a head”.
He said: “You are a woman of good character. This offence was committed when you were under the must intolerable pressure.
“You kept the pregnancy a secret, you yourself were in denial that you were pregnant.
“When you came to give birth, the psychological trauma from which you had been suffering came to a head.
“No longer could you deny the existence of what was now a living newborn baby girl.
“You or very possibly a person you were with inflicted dreadful injuries on that baby girl.
“She was left for dead and she did die within a very short time.”
Mr Feest QC said following the incident a large investigation and public enquiry began, but Rai “made no response” to any of the enquiries and never sought medical or police help in relation to the birth and death.
Subsequent investigations and DNA evidence later revealed Rai to be the mother but following her arrest in March 2020 she gave a “no comment” interview.
Grainy CCTV from 11pm to midnight on the night of May 15 was shown to jurors, showing two people walking around the vicinity of the birth site.
One member of the public recalled seeing a woman at around 10.40pm that night looking “dishevelled”, “embarrassed he had seen her”, and “appearing to wish to remain out of sight”.
The child – who was believed to have lived for less than six hours – was given the name Baby M by police.
Rai was found guilty of infanticide by a jury on May 5 this year.
She will pay a statutory charge of £85, will be under a community order of two years and undertake rehabilitation activities for 30 days after remaining in custody for two years 40 days.
Speaking after the case, Detective Chief Inspector Dave Storey of Hampshire Police, described the circumstances surrounding the baby’s death as “truly heartbreaking”.
The “long and harrowing” investigation into what happened included police visiting 1,200 households, completing 5,000 questionnaires and viewing more than 1,000 hours of CCTV footage to identify Rai.
“It cannot be underestimated how much such a terrible event affects the local community,” Mr Storey said.
“The investigation and subsequent trial has provided important information and answers as to what occurred.
“The jury examined these facts and sensibly returned infanticide as their verdict.
“This brings the case to a satisfactory conclusion but death of Baby M will remain a tragedy for all involved.”