Infanticide prosecution deemed 'oppressive'

Last updated 11:43 13/08/2014

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Continuing the prosecution of a Hutt Valley woman for infanticide of her newborn baby conceived from incest was considered oppressive and unjust, it can now be revealed.

A decision was made in March to stop the charge against the woman.

The baby was conceived from an incestuous relationship with her adoptive father and its body was found in a neighbour’s garden after its birth in August 2012.

The woman, then 21, was mentally impaired and had not known she was pregnant until she went into labour.

Her name and the name of her adoptive father, 60, were suppressed.

He is now serving a sentence of three years and three months’ jail. He pleaded guilty to incest charges.

Crown Law, which oversees the prosecution of serious crime, would not release the reasons for staying the charge against the woman until it was known if the father would appeal the outcome of his case. The appeal period expired this week.

The woman was first charged with murder and then infanticide before the acting Deputy Solicitor-General, after consulting the Crown Solicitor and Police, decided to stop the prosecution.

“While the death of a child is always a serious matter, in the highly unusual circumstances of this case it was considered that continuation of the prosecution was not in the public interest, and would be oppressive and unjust,” a spokeswoman said.

The decision was based on a combination of factors.

“While there was sufficient evidence to prosecute, the prospects of conviction were assessed as marginal.”

Even if she had been convicted the level of blame was such that it was likely that she would have been discharged without conviction, the spokeswoman said.

The decision took into account the evidence of how the woman came to be pregnant, her living situation at the time, the traumatic circumstances of the birth and ongoing trauma, and her mental impairment.

A court was told she lived under a strict regime of cooking and cleaning for her adoptive family and her adoptive mother would assault her if she did not do the work.

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