Mum who strangled newborn baby with her knickers spared jail

Stoke-on-Trent

 

A mother strangled her newborn baby to death with her knickers moments after concealing the pregnancy from her partner because he was not the father, the Old Bailey heard.

Gintare Suminaite, 30, told police she wrapped her hands around the little girl’s throat and squeezed ‘as hard as I could’ before holding her under the shower in a bid to drown her.

She then cut the umbilical cord with a razor blade before tying a her underwear around the infant’s neck and placing her in a baby bath on 5 April last year.

The tiny body was found the following day after Suminaite’s English partner, who she has another child with, called an ambulance to the flat they shared in Bognor Regis, West Sussex when he found her bleeding heavily.

Prosecutor Ed Brown QC said he had no idea she was expecting to give birth until she confessed she had ‘done something bad’ after falling pregnant during an affair with fellow Lithuanian Arturas Vencius, 32.

Suminaite lost up to four litres of blood, while the cause of death of her baby was given as ‘ligature compression of the neck in a neonate, born alive, following uncontrolled labour and congenital pneumonia’.

Suminaite was arrested and charged with murdering the infant, known only as ‘Baby Suminaite’, but prosecutors accepted a plea to the lesser charge of infanticide at the Old Bailey.

Handing her a two-year community order with a 60-day rehabilitation requirement, the judge, Mr Justice Nicol, told her: ‘The unlawful homicide of anyone is a tragedy, especially that is the case when the victim is so young, even more so that is the case when the child died at the hands of her own mother.

‘However, your circumstances were tragic in themselves and that is reflected in the nature of the offence to which you have pleaded guilty.’

The judge explained: ‘Infanticide was made an offence in 1938 as an alternative to other forms of homicide in recognition of the extreme pressures from which some women suffer during or shortly after giving birth.

‘Over recent years, the courts have recognised it is rarely an offence that requires a custodial sentence.’

The court heard Suminaite came to the UK in 2009 and moved in with her English partner in 2011 before they had a child.

But the relationship broke down and Suminaite struck had a fling with Mr Arturas in around February or March 2015.

He knew he was the father of the child when Suminaite fell pregnant and hoped she would travel back to Lithuania with her.

But she made no registration of her pregnancy, attended no ante-natal classes and hid it from her English partner.

He had been working a night shift and awoke at about 2.40pm to hear the shower on.

Suminaite eventually allowed him into the bathroom be where she found her naked and covered in blood next to a baby bath.

The prosecutor said: ‘It should not be thought that the infant baby that was eventually found in that baby bath was at this time alive or capable of being saved.

‘All the evidence shows that the child had been dead for some little time.’

Suminaite continued to lose blood throughout the evening, but refused to see a doctor until she turned yellow and her partner insisted she had to go to hospital.

She then confessed she had been pregnant with Mr Vencius’ child and would go to jail because the baby was in the bath.

An ambulance was called at 5.42am on 6 April last year and Suminaite was rushed to hospital, but it was not until 9am that medics returned to the flat, where they found the tot’s lifeless body in the baby bath under a blanket and wet towels.

‘Members of the midwife team and the ambulance team who travelled and made the discovery were deeply affected and shocked by the findings, and remained so for a significant period afterwards,’ said the prosecutor.

She told police she ‘most likely’ intended to kill her baby, but said she did not know why.

Suminaite pleaded guilty to a charge of infanticide on 21 December last year.

Mr Brown said: ‘It’s alleged and proved by the plea of guilty that the defendant having very shortly before given birth to her child then killed the newly born girl.

‘Over the weeks and months leading up to today, the Crown have received a body of evidence, both from physicians as well as psychiatric experts.

‘In light of the whole evidential picture that’s now available and in line with the crown’s continuing duty to keep each case under review, the crown has reconsidered the charge of murder.’

Nigel Lickley QC, defending, said at the time of the killing Suminaite and her partner were living in separate rooms with little affection or intimacy and a life that was ‘frankly desperate’.

‘This is tragic. Of course I have to acknowledge there is a child who has had its life extinguished within minutes of birth at the hands of its mother.

‘But the young mother responsible was not only socially isolated, but emotionally isolated too.’

He added: ‘The courts recognise in circumstances such as this, where there is no underlying psychiatric illness, where there is a low risk of re-offending or causing harm, that what might otherwise be thought of as lenient is the appropriate course, namely a non-custodial sentence.

The court heard the father of her child has broken off contact with her, but Vencius has returned the UK where he has arranged accommodation for them both.

Suminaite, of Rushden Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire denied murder but pleaded guilty to infanticide.
ENDS

 

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