Yorkshire woman refuses to answer coroner's questions over baby's death

A woman from Keighley has refused to answer questions about the death of her baby girl.
A woman from Keighley has refused to answer questions about the death of her baby girl.
0
Have your say

A young woman broke down and cried as she refused to answer a coroner's questions about how she came to store her dead baby's body in a shoebox for days after giving birth alone in her bedroom.

Exclusive: Energy firm ‘refused to rule out fracking under North York Moors’

Ayesha Tariq was 19-years-old when she gave birth at her home in Keighley, West Yorkshire, after a pregnancy she had hidden from her family because she was "scared and ashamed", an inquest heard.

Coroner Martin Fleming ruled he had insufficient evidence to rule on whether the child he called Baby Tariq was born alive or stillborn after hearing how the body was left in the box for six days - first under a bed and then in the boot of a car.

The hearing heard how Miss Tariq told police she had gone into labour in her bedroom on February 26, 2013, and gave birth alone.

She said to officers the baby did not cry and she eventually decided to put it face down in a shoe box which she put under her bed.

After three days her mother, Tasleem Akhtar, searched the room due to a bad smell and found the box.

The inquest heard how the women put the box in the boot of her car and, three days later, they drove to Airedale General Hospital where they handed it to doctors.

Giving evidence behind a screen at Bradford Coroner's Court, Miss Tariq answered questions about her pregnancy, clearly upset.

Crying she said: "I didn't tell anyone.

"I was scared and ashamed. Every day I wanted to ask somebody for help."

But when she was asked about her going into labour coroner Martin Fleming gave her a legal warning that she did not have to answer any questions which risk of incriminating her.

New fine to be introduced for driving on smart motorways under dreaded 'Red X'

Miss Tariq then answered "I don't want to answer that questions" to a range of his questions.

Mr Fleming's question included whether she felt concern for the new-born baby and why she placed the body in the box.

He also asked her: "Did you make any attempt to muffle the cries of the baby?"

To each of these she said she did not want want to answer.

She gave the same answer when the coroner asked her whether she had told her boyfriend she was "going to get rid of the baby".

Two pathologists told the hearing there were indications in the little girl's lungs that she could have taken a breath but they could not rule out that the effect was caused by postmortem processes.

Paediatric pathologist Jens Stahlschmidt was asked multiple times if he could say whether it was more likely or not the baby was stillborn or had taken an independent breath.

Dr Stahlschmidt said: "It's impossible to say without having a witness who saw the baby moving or crying.

"It's directly on the cusp. I can't really say. I can't be certain."

Yorkshire businessman weeps as he is cleared over knocking down former friend with his Bentley after Facebook row

He there was no evidence of disease or congenital defects and the baby appeared to be full-term.

Home Office pathologist Kirsten Hope said there was no physical evidence of asphyxiation, although this could not rule out suffocation by the baby being laid face down on the bed.

Also giving evidence behind a screen, Mrs Akhtar said her daughter would not have told the family about her boyfriend because "its not what we do. It's not culturally acceptable."

She also refused to answer questions, following a legal warning, about what they did with the box after she found it in her daughter's bedroom and why she did not alert the authorities.

The inquest heard how Miss Tariq initially told police she had been raped but later admitted to officers this was wrong.

Miss Tariq and her mother were arrested on suspicion of a number of offences but no action was taken following a review by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mr Fleming said did not have enough evidence to conclude Baby Tariq was stillborn - a conclusion that would have stopped the hearing proceeding to a full inquest.

In a narrative conclusion, he said: "There's insufficient evidence, on the balance of probabilities, to determine whether Baby Tariq was born alive or stillborn."

James Robottom, for Miss Tariq and Mrs Akhtar, said: "I don't think the law's clear on what you do in these circumstances."

Read more:

New fine to be introduced for driving on smart motorways under dreaded 'Red X'

Yorkshire businessman weeps as he is cleared over knocking down former friend with his Bentley after Facebook row

Exclusive: Energy firm ‘refused to rule out fracking under North York Moors’