In an interview with the Daily Mirror, she and her husband, Roger, have given the first full details of their reunion with Abbie after her abduction 16 days earlier from Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham.
The call with the good news came at 2.29am on 16 July. Karen, 32, was at a friend's house in Nottingham. Roger, 33, a decorating supervisor, was in the family caravan on his mobile phone. Det Sgt Mick Roberts told them: 'We think we've got her back.' A police car arrived to take the couple to the Queen's Medical Centre.
The police driver tried to prepare them for disappointment. 'It's a baby. We think it's Abbie, but it might not be,' she said. But Karen was certain it was hers.
Roger, who had stomach cramps from tension, was less sure. Det Sgt Roberts reassured them. He hugged them, saying: 'It's Abbie.' It was then Karen had her first doubts. 'It is Abbie, isn't it?' she asked. 'Course it is, Karen,' he answered.
The baby was in the office belonging to Sue Thompson, a midwife adminstrator. Karen, a midwife, recalled: 'I was dead shocked because she looked so tiny. I saw the blonde hair and that she had Roger's calf-lick in her hair. I'd never noticed it when I'd had her because her hair was so matted up and you couldn't tell.'
When asked if it was Abbie, she said 'yes' without hesitation. 'I just knew she was Abbie. You do because she's your baby. You know what she looks like.' Roger shared her certainty - she looked identical to pictures they had taken of her after birth. 'I had no doubts whatsoever.'
For the first time in 16 days the couple from Sherwood, Nottingham, could hold their daughter, allegedly stolen from their hospital room four hours after birth by Julie Kelley, a 22-year-old former dental nurse.
Karen said: 'I held Abbie and Roger and I hugged each other.' Roger said: '(She was) holding her and talking to her straight away. She was saying: 'My darling. Hello, I've missed you'.' His wife was dry-eyed. He broke down and cried for the first time since their daughter was taken.
Both were struck by the baby's purple colour and the loose skin on her arms. She had apparently been kept inside for two weeks because she was pale and blotchy.
After half an hour they left by the delivery entrance they had previously used to escape the media. Behind them waved a group of staff and policemen smiling and surreptitiously wiping the corners of their eyes.
They rejoined friends and family at 3.30am. Then, when no one was looking, Karen threw away the Mothercare blanket in which Abbie had been wrapped - the last physical evidence of the woman who had taken away her baby.Reuse content