50,000 pounds offered for return of baby

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The Independent Online
A REWARD of pounds 50,000 was offered yesterday for information leading to the safe return of Abbie Humphries, the new-born baby abducted from a Nottingham hospital four days ago.

The reward - pounds 5,000 from an anonymous donor, pounds 20,000 from the Sun and pounds 25,000 from the Daily Mirror - was offered as psychologists devised an appeal, to be released today, to the woman who took the baby from the Queen's Medical Centre on Friday.

If the woman - who disguised herself as a nurse and persuaded the baby's father to hand over the child for a 'routine hearing test' - fails to respond to the appeal, detectives are expected to release a rear-view picture of a suspect and another female witness caught on security cameras at the hospital.

'There is going to be an opportune moment to release the picture but we believe we should try this first,' a police spokesman said yesterday. 'We have been advised that the appeal must be very carefully worded.'

Detective Superintendent Harry Shepherd said the security-camera images were satisfactory, but psychologists are believed to have warned police that the pictures might antagonise the abductor and put Abbie at risk. Yesterday, police asked the woman to contact them as soon as possible and promised sympathetic treatment.

Det Supt Shepherd said Abbie's parents, Karen, 32, and Roger, 33, were standing up to their ordeal better than anyone could have expected.

More than 300 people have called the incident room with information and police yesterday apologised to nine women who have been investigated and cleared since inquiries began.

Ken Norman, organiser of the Portia Trust, has warned that the woman who abducted Abbie may be 'too depressed and cut off' to hear appeals. The trust was founded to support female abductors after a case in 1971 in which a woman cared for a stolen baby for six weeks. She did not know its real name even though it had received widespread publicity in newspapers and on television.