I read the other day of a tragic case, A new born baby was killed by her mother. After a three year search the woman, Babita Rai, was arrested and convicted of infanticide. The sentence? She has been given a community work order for two years and is required to undertake 30 days rehabilitation. She had been in prison awaiting trial for a year.
In October 2000 a little boy was found in a shallow grave in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. He was given the name Stewart after a local landmark. This new born had also suffered a violent death. 21 years later police still have an open murder enquiry as a result.
Two cases and the only difference is one was solved.
The article I read was very sympathetic to this young woman. She came to the UK from Nepal while six months pregnant. This fact she concealed from Border Force officials. She did not tell any medical services and she did not tell people she worked with at a restaurant. At the time she gave birth she was 20 years old.
Her daughter was found in woodland in Aldershot in Hampshire in 2017. A gardener found the baby girl four days after she had been killed. At first he thought it was a doll. The infant was only about four pounds in weight having been born prematurely.
The injuries this defenceless baby suffered were repeated blows to her head. The trauma crushed part of her skull. Worst of all it is estimated that she lived, alone and in terrible suffering for between two and twelve hours before finally dying. The jury heard evidence that suggests that Rai was not alone and may well have been helped in the killing of her child.
Of Rai herself she said she does not recall anything. She did not so much deny it, but could not plead guilty as she had no recollection of the event. It is felt that she suffered PTSD over the whole thing. It was said she felt terrible pressure after becoming pregnant in Nepal. The patriarchal society structure of the country took a lot of the blame.
Judge Johnson said that the psychological trauma that had been exerted by this patriarchal society had brought everything ‘to a head’. This might be seen by some as an unfortunate turn of phrase given the injuries the infant suffered.
The Judge is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying:
‘So far as you were concerned, the balance of your mind was disturbed. You are a woman of good character. This offence was committed when you were under the most intolerable pressure. You were living in a country that was not your home where you did not speak the language, where you were unable to access the services that are there to assist pregnant women and new mothers, and were wholly dependent on your family for whom this baby would have been regarded as a curse and not a blessing. The offence of infanticide recognises that the criminal responsibility of a mother in these circumstances is often very greatly reduced.’
Following a three year enquiry DNA evidence linked Rai to her child. Rai had not answered any of the police appeals for her to come forward. When arrested she gave a no comment interview. CCTV footage showed two people around the area between 11pm and midnight. It is from this that it is believed Rai had company.
Newtownards Baby Stewart.
This boy suffered a violent death and was found in a shallow grave. Strangford Lough, County Down was where the child drew his few first breaths and his last.
Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy of PSNI said:
‘The heart breaking case of Baby Stewart touched the hearts of the police family in a profound way at the time of his death in 2000 and we, as a service, have never forgotten him’.
The local community rallied to give the baby a burial but all this time later his real name is unknown.
Two cases and only one solved. Two defenceless infants who drew breath and then were violently assaulted. In the case of Rai much sympathy has been shown to her. Her daughter seems to have slipped through the cracks when it comes to her share of consideration. All cases must be tried individually that I understand. However, all cases are brought under the law. All cases are administered not just for the victim, not just for the accused but for all of us. The law should especially speak for those that have no voice.
Penalties for killing affect all of us. In Rai’s case what deterrent is there in the sentence that was handed out? What deterrent is there in the fatherly tones of this Judge? I’d say none. Even if I accept that Rai is a person demented by the situation she found herself in a baby had her head cracked open. Notably, horrifically, she was left to die alone in undergrowth. Can anyone assure me that this will never be callously copied? That no-one reading this will see a way out of murder?
The judge says she is a woman of good character. I have considered this carefully. I think the judge is nuts or he is using some definition of the term that is new to me. I am a flawed man with many faults so in a way I am pleased. If a person who kills a baby is of good character I must be a saint.
As for baby Stewart. Maybe the best justice he could have got was the compassion he was shown by the police and community in Newtownards. Given the example of Babita Rai, Stewart would not get any justice from the courts.
What do you think? I say bad people are out there and they are not all stupid. The way Rai was dealt with may well encourage another crime. If I am wrong please set me straight. I would like to believe this is the way to go, it might ease the sickness in my stomach.
Take Care and take care of those that cannot help themselves