A woman has been sentenced for concealing the birth of a baby in what appears to be the first time that charge has been prosecuted in Western Australia.
The 23-year-old concealed her pregnancy, secretly gave birth and then hid the stillborn baby in a box in her family’s bathroom.
The woman got a positive result from a pregnancy test in May last year but when suspicious family and friends asked her if she was expecting, she denied it and wore baggy clothes to hide her bump.
After she gave birth and was bleeding heavily in August, her father took her to hospital, still unaware she had been pregnant.
At the hospital, she delivered the placenta and staff contacted the police.
She denied having had a baby but when the police searched her family’s bathroom, they found the newborn, who showed no signs of life.
The woman was charged with concealing the birth of a child by hiding its body, which appears to be the first time that offence has been pursued in WA, the District Court heard on Friday.
Defence counsel Ken Bates said his client did not believe she was pregnant because she had menstruated after the positive test.
She couldn’t recall what happened between giving birth and being at the hospital, and had been pushed up against a wall by a horse the day before, Bates said.
She told someone that when she had the baby, it came out feet first and blue, and she “freaked out” not knowing what to do.
Judge Stephen Scott said it was a very unusual offence.
“I have no difficulty in understanding the trauma that might be occasioned to somebody who gives birth to a child and the child is stillborn,” he said.
“In your case, clearly there were matters that arose well prior to the birth where you were in denial essentially as to the fact that you were pregnant, didn’t want anyone else to know.”
He handed the woman a 12-month intensive supervision order with a program requirement likely to include counselling.
“In the event that you are subsequently pregnant, you may have a better means of dealing with matters,” he said.
“The supervision order will involve a community corrections officer seeing how you’re doing from time to time.”