Tragedy of newborn baby found dead by worker on conveyor belt at recycling plant

The mother of a newborn baby girl whose body was discovered wrapped up in a pink beach towel at a recycling plant may have suffered a difficult labour, an inquest heard on August 25.

The baby’s body was found placed on a conveyor belt by worker Adam Ferguson at the waste recycling facility on August 20, 2020.

Despite an ongoing investigation by detectives, West Yorkshire Police have been unable to to trace the girl’s mum, after her child was discovered on Bowling Back Lane in Bradford.

Police stated that ‘numerous’ women’s names have been put forward, by the public and various professionals, but all of those were eventually ruled out, reports Yorkshire Live.

The hearing was informed that the girl was fair-skinned and had a head full of brown hair. She appeared to be full-term. The body had suffered injuries that were deemed to be consistent with having been in a bin lorry.

The body was found on a conveyor belt at a recycling plant

Post mortem examinations by pathologists Professor Marta Cohen and Dr Kirsten Hope had concluded that the cause of the baby’s death could not be ascertained.

In a joint report, the pathologists said the evidence pointed to a “difficult labour” for the mother.

They said that the child had “potentially drawn breath” but it was not possible to say whether this happened during or after she was delivered.

Tests also revealed a genetic abnormality of the heart but the pathologists concluded it wasn’t possible to say if this had led to neonatal (newborn) death.

The body of a newborn baby was found wrapped in a Fuerteventura beach towel at a recycling centre in Bradford
The body of a newborn baby was found wrapped in a Fuerteventura beach towel at a recycling centre in Bradford

The inquest heard from Detective Sergeant Daniel Townend of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team (HMET).

Det Sgt Townend said extensive inquiries had been carried out in an effort to trace the mother but to no avail.

He said the towel had been tested for DNA but this had come to nothing. Blood on the towel all related to the baby, he said.

The officer said the main focus was on the welfare of the mother given the evidence of the difficult birth.

The baby's mother has not been traced
The baby’s mother has not been traced

Checks had been made on vulnerable mothers and discussions had taken place between police and midwifery teams.

He said “numerous names” had been suggested to police and all had been ruled out.

Det Sgt Townend said a leaflet drop had been carried out in two areas of Bradford where two big wagons had visited before calling at the depot, yet no names had been put forward.

It was not possible to narrow waste collection points any further.

Names had been put forward of vulnerable mothers but have all been ruled out
Names had been put forward of vulnerable mothers but have all been ruled out

In a narrative verdict, assistant coroner Angela Brocklehurst said the evidence in the case was limited to the circumstances around the discovery of the child and medical details relating to possible causes of death.

“No evidence has been discovered as to the date and time and place of the child’s real death, therefore those questions remain to be answered,” she said.

“The medical evidence we have fails to answer the questions how and by what means did this child come by her death, in one way or another, or not.”

She said evidence had been heard about whether the child had been able to draw a breath and, if so, when.

“Was it in the process of delivery or after complete delivery by the mother,” Ms Brocklhurst added

“Sadly, in the absence of a placenta, despite searches being made, neither pathologist has been able to determine an answer to that question or determine at what point the child’s life came to an end and for what reason.”

The coroner said DNA samples of the child had been extracted and kept for future reference.

“The only facts arising from the evidence are that an unidentified child has died at an unknown time and place from an unknown medical cause of death.”

She thanked West Yorkshire Police and the two pathologists for their extensive work on the case.

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