Couple 'made mistake' over baby smuggling: Woman asks Romanian authorities to be understanding with her situation

THE BRITISH couple accused of trying to smuggle a baby out of Romania yesterday appealed to their jailers to show understanding for what both described as a 'stupid mistake'.

In written statements accompanying an application for bail, Adrian and Bernadette Mooney of Wokingham, Berkshire, said they were sorry for what they had done. 'Please be understanding with my situation,' wrote Mrs Mooney. 'This was only a stupid mistake.'

British diplomats in Bucharest expect the Mooneys, aged 41 and 39 respectively, to be freed on bail today pending trial on charges of breaking Romania's adoption and border laws.

Hopes are rising, moreover, that rather than facing jail if found guilty, the Mooneys could get away with a heavy fine.

'We do not wish to make an example out of the British couple,' Emil Dinu, the chief prosecutor in the case, told Reuters news agency yesterday. 'They seem a nice couple who were led into doing the wrong thing . . . They will have a fair trial.'

The Mooneys were arrested earlier this month after border guards caught them trying to cross into Hungary with a five-month-old girl concealed in a picnic basket.

According to the police, Mr and Mrs Mooney paid dollars 6,000 ( pounds 3,900) to a Romanian middle man and two accomplices responsible for setting up the deal.

The three Romanians, together with the 17-year-old parents of the baby, will join the Mooneys in the dock for the trial, expected to take place later this month.

The Mooneys' case is the first involving allegations of child trafficking since the Romanian government sought to clamp down on the problem by introducing strict new adoption laws in 1991.

However, charity workers in Bucharest fear that, although not nearly so frequent, illegal baby sales are still common.

According to Jeremy Condor, of the Romanian Orphanage Trust, a British-funded charity which is helping with adoption and child welfare issues: 'We have clear evidence that it still happens - particularly near the borders with Hungary and Turkey.

'Village girls of 16 or younger who get pregnant are seen as having brought shame on the family. Selling the baby sometimes appears as an easy solution.'

In the immediate aftermath of the Romanian revolution, child trafficking boomed. With more than 100,000 babies and children discovered to be in poorly- equipped orphanages, the country became a magnet for childless couples from the West seeking babies for adoption.

Between December 1989 and July 1991, foreigners adopted more than 7,000 babies legally and an estimated 10,000 illegally.

Under the law passed in 1991, such trading was made illegal and the process of adoption by foreigners was made considerably harder.

Instead of the previous free-for- all, prospective parents are now carefully screened by the authorities in both their native countries and Romania and all applications generally take a minimum of one year.

Under the new regulations, the Mooneys, who successfully adopted a Romanian girl in 1991, were barred from adopting another child from the country on the grounds of their ages.

But even if they had been younger, the chances of success would have been small - under the new law, only five applications from a particular country can be processed at any one time, which has resulted in a prohibitively long waiting list.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee