Baby kidnapper avoids jail
A woman who kidnapped a newborn baby from Middlemore Hospital to hide her own miscarriage has avoided a jail sentence.
Neha Narayan, 25, pleaded guilty to kidnapping the day-old infant last month and this morning in the High Court at Auckland was sentenced to 200 hours community work and two years of intensive supervision, which will include a range of psychological and psychiatric treatments.
Narayan had a miscarriage six months before the incident on January 4 but pretended she was still pregnant, buying baby clothes and toys before asking her then partner to take her to the hospital because she was "overdue".
When she took the newborn out of the hospital and into the car park, her partner was there to pick her up genuinely thinking he was the father.
The baby was out of the hospital for only minutes before Narayan was tracked down by members of the infant's family, but it had traumatic effects on the mother.
Reading from her victim impact statement, Crown prosecutor Mark Williams told the court she was horrified when she found out she had been tricked by the offender.
"It was the worst feeling I can imagine," she said.
"When I returned home I was scared someone would take my baby. I didn't even trust the community midwife."
Narayan was originally charged with abduction after she took the baby from the maternity ward but it was later upgraded to kidnapping.
Defence counsel Ron Mansfield accepted charges of that nature usually resulted in imprisonment but said his client was "a very unwell young woman".
Narayan had nearly half a dozen psychological and psychiatric reports on her file which Justice Peter Woodhouse said highlighted her "complex mental health issues".
The 25-year-old had no previous convictions and the judge accepted the abduction was not done for financial gain or with any sense of evil intent, as was often the case.
As conditions of Narayan's intensive supervision, Justice Woodhouse directed her to several programmes, including a drug and alcohol assessment.
He accepted there was a low risk of Narayan reoffending but banned her from employment or voluntary work that gave her unsupervised access to babies or young children.