Tragedy of the carrier bag baby

A WOMAN who kept her pregnancy a secret then turned up at a Sheffield hospital with a dead baby four hours after giving birth, told an inquest she could not accept she was pregnant.

Tuesday, 2nd October 2007, 11:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd October 2007, 12:42 pm

Emma Kerns, aged 25, gave birth alone at her Sheffield home, cut the umbilical cord with nail scissors, then caught a bus to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital carrying her dead daughter in the bottom of a carrier bag, the inquest heard.

She failed to call an ambulance or seek medical help.

Throughout the police investigation into the death of baby Sian, Miss Kerns denied knowing she was pregnant.

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Giving evidence at Sian's inquest yesterday, Miss Kerns admitted seeing a nurse at Sheffield Central Health Clinic who told her she was pregnant and too late for a termination, but she said she couldn't accept it.

"I accept I was told that but I don't remember how I felt about it. I just got on with things. There's no way that I thought that could be right. I just couldn't accept it or something, I don't know."

Miss Kerns, a journalist at the Ilkeston Advertiser in Derbyshire, continued working. She told police she gave birth to the baby girl in bed on March 7, 2006. The child made gurgling noises, then turned cold and stopped breathing.

Letters found in a notebook by her bed read: "Please please help me. I'm scared but I'm trying to block all this out. Why can't it go away, why can't it go to sleep and leave me alone?"

Another read: "Why did my friend have to lose hers but I kept mine?

"Even after all the drinking and not taking care of myself, it's so unfair ... I didn't ask to have a drunk one night stand. I wish I had never laid eyes on him."

Asked if the notes referred to her being pregnant, Miss Kerns, formerly of Ringinglow Road, Bents Green, now of Derby, said she couldn't remember writing them. She said: "It's likely but I don't remember doing it. I don't remember writing it at all."

Miss Kerns was warned by deputy coroner Donald Coutts-Wood that under Rule 22 of the Coroner's rules she didn't have to answer any questions that might incriminate her. She refused to answer numerous questions about her daughter's death.

When asked by Mr Coutts-Wood if she accepted keeping her pregnancy a secret, failing to safeguard her child during her birth and failing to seek medical assistance amounted to 'gross negligence', Miss Kerns replied: "I don't want to answer that."

The court heard pathologist Dr Martha Cohen failed to establish a cause of death for the child because the placenta had never been found.

Asked if she had disposed of it in Endcliffe Park, Miss Kerns again replied: "I don't want to answer that."

No charges have ever been brought against Miss Kerns.

Mr Coutts-Wood was expect-ed to record his verdict today.

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