UPDATED: Mother jailed for "robbing" baby son of his life days before he was due to be born (From York Press)
Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Mother aborted her unborn child days before she was due to give birth
A MOTHER has been jailed for eight years for "robbing" her unborn son of his life just days before she was due to give birth.
Sarah Louise Catt, 35, bought a labour-inducing abortion drug over the internet and terminated the pregnancy she had hidden from her husband, said prosecution barrister Simon Waley.
She was in the 39th week of the normal 40 weeks of her pregnancy.
Some months earlier, she had told her long-term lover about the pregnancy and broken off the relationship. After the abortion, she resumed the affair, saying there was no child.
Mr Justice Cooke told her: "What you have done is to rob an apparently healthy child, ....... vulnerable and defenceless, of the life which he was about to commence."
There was no reason to believe the child would not have been born alive and healthy.
Her crime was worse than any other crime except murder, the judge said..
Catt showed no emotion as sentence was passed. She maintains the baby was stillborn. The 35-year-old from Sherburn-in-Elmet pleaded guilty to giving herself a drug with intent to miscarry her child.
The judge said she knew all about the issues of pregnancy, abortion, childbirth and adoption because she had had her first child adopted, given birth to two more and had had an earlier, legal, abortion.
Chief Inspector Kerrin Smith, of North Yorkshire Police, who led the police investigation, said: "Catt has proved to be cold and calculating and has shown no remorse or given an explanation for what she did, lying to the police, health professionals and her family throughout the investigation."
Her barrister Frances Oldham QC said at Leeds Crown Court of the effect Catt's crime had upon her family: "That is something that she will never forgive herself. It is a burden she will bear for the rest of her life."
The officer who led the police investigation into Catt’s pregnancy said her actions had affected the detectives who brought her to justice. Chief Inspector Kerrin Smith of the Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit said: “This was an unusual, disturbing and very complicated case to investigate. Investigating the death of a child is always harrowing, but in this case, the absence of a body and the cold and calculating profile of Sarah Catt have had a particular effect upon a number of officers.
“I can only hope now that Catt has been sentenced and has the time to reflect on her actions, that she will reveal where the body of her baby is, so that we can ensure a compassionate conclusion to this very sad investigation.”
She said Det Con Ellie Stephen’s tenacity had ensured a successful prosecution. North Yorkshire Police sent out an all forces alert in 2010 for information on all deceased and live abandoned babies, and have carried out DNA checks on several to try and find Catt’s child. They have also carried out searches with specialist equipment and dogs of her home without success.
The countdown to tragedy and retribution
May. Marries her partner of ten years.
August. Catt becomes pregnant, she believes by her lover.
October. Catt tells her lover about her pregnancy, but keeps it secret from her husband.
November 23. The date she later claims her pregnancy began.
January. Catt breaks up with her lover of seven years. She starts internet searches about abortions.
Early March. Passes 24-week legal time limit on having an abortion.
March 15. Seeks abortion from British Pregnancy Advisory Service. Told she is too late.
March 16. Misses an appointment at Marie Stopes Clinic. She later claims this is when the baby was aborted, at a cost of £1,750. No payment made.
Goes for scan at St James Hospital, Leeds, which estimates she is 29 weeks pregnant. NHS staff expect her to start antenatal care.
Shortly afterwards she makes an internet search: “Where can I get an illegal abortion?”
April 14. Orders labour-inducing drug from Indian company.
May 10. Drug delivered to her home.
May 17. York Hospital midwife rings her about her pregnancy. She claims it ended on March 16.
May 22, June 4, June 11, June 14 tells her GP’s practice and a specialist safeguarding children’s nurse her pregnancy ended on March 16.
May 25. Takes afternoon off work. Work colleagues unaware she is 39 weeks pregnant.
May 26. Researches how long the drug will take to act.
May 27. Goes on holiday.
June 9. Checks the law on whether police can seize her medical records.
June. Resumes relationship with her lover.
July 29. Arrested at work. Later released on bail and rearrested following year.
September 17. Jailed for eight years for aborting her unborn son.