No jail for concealed births mother

No jail for concealed births mother


Bernadette Quirk, 55, arrives at Liverpool Crown Court with her lawyer Ian Morris

A woman who concealed the births of four stillborn babies and kept three of them in her wardrobe for two decades has avoided jail.

Bernadette Quirk illegally buried one baby in a cemetery and wrapped the other three in newspaper and rags and kept them in a small plastic bin with an air freshener, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

The 55-year-old said she gave birth to the babies between 1985 and 1995.

Their remains were discovered last July by Quirk’s daughter, Joanne Lee, who contacted police.

Quirk, of St Helens, Merseyside, admitted four counts of concealing births and was given a two-year community order, subject to supervision, and ordered to take part in a women’s intervention project.

Anya Horwood, opening the case for the prosecution, said Quirk, a mother of three, fell into a “chaotic and dysfunctional” lifestyle following the break-up of her second marriage in the mid-1980s.

She said: “The defendant’s heavy drinking significantly impaired her ability to look after her children, her family and herself. She had a number of sexual relationships during this period.”

There was no explanation about why Quirk kept the remains with her – moving home several times in the intervening years.

At the end of July last year, Quirk’s daughter discovered the remains of one baby in her mother’s wardrobe at her house in Harlow Close. Miss Lee already knew about a baby buried in St Helens Cemetery in the late 1990s and asked a friend to contact police.

The defendant told detectives she gave birth to the four babies at her old home in Brandreth Close, St Helens, and they were all stillborn. Forensic tests suggested they had congenital disorders and Quirk was charged with concealing birth contrary to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

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