Gloucestershire teen accused of illegal abortion told police she had stillbirth

A teenager accused of taking a pill to illegally abort a baby told police she had reconciled herself to the idea of having the child but suffered a stillbirth, a jury has heard.

Sophie Harvey, who was 19 at the time, said she panicked and wrapped the dead baby in a towel, put it in a plastic bag and placed it in a bin at the family home in Gloucestershire.

She said she had not told anyone she was pregnant apart from her boyfriend, Elliot Benham, who was also 19, and that her family was away at the time.

The prosecution alleges that Harvey procured pills to cause an abortion – after being told she could not have a lawful termination – and took one of them.

Both defendants bowed their heads as part of a police interview that Harvey gave in November 2018 was read out to the jury at Gloucester crown court. At times Harvey appeared tearful.

Harvey told police she and Benham had gone to a clinic at the end of August 2018 after she found out she was pregnant but were informed she was “too far gone” for an abortion. The prosecution alleges the baby was 28 weeks and five days, too old for Harvey to have legal termination.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I didn’t tell anyone. I was scared.” But then she thought that having a baby wouldn’t be “the worst thing in the world”, she said. She believed she would still be able to work and carrying on with her hobby of dancing. “I could try and get through it all,” she told police. She said she did not want to put the baby up for adoption and Benham promised to support her. “He just said it was up to me, it was my choice.”

But she said that on a Sunday in September – she thought it was 9 September – she started to feel pain and the baby was born in the toilet. “It was blue,” she said. “There was no sign of life, no movement at all.” She told officers: “I was overwhelmed and scared.”

She said she wrapped the baby in a towel, put it in a plastic bag and placed it in a bin. Asked by officers if the child was a boy or girl, she said: “I didn’t want to look.” Asked if Benham had looked, she said: “He didn’t want to know.” She said the house was empty apart from them as her sister was taking part in a dance competition.

The prosecution has alleged that when they were told Harvey could not have a legal abortion, they sent off for a kit containing five pills that can bring about an abortion. When police searched the house they found a kit, but it was missing one pill – the first one typically taken. The prosecution claims they disposed of the baby to hide that Harvey had taken an illegal pill.

Harvey denies procuring poison with intent to procure a miscarriage and denies administering poison with intent to procure a miscarriage. Harvey and Benham both deny undertaking an act intending to pervert the course of justice by disposing of a child.

The jury has been told that both defendants, now 25, had admitted the charge of concealing the birth of a baby while Benham, from Wiltshire, had “acknowledged” his part in procuring the tablets.

The trial continues.

The Guardian

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