Woman admits hiding four stillborn daughters

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The Independent Online

A woman has admitted concealing the births of four stillborn babies and keeping three of them in her wardrobe for about 20 years.

Bernadette Quirk illegally buried one baby in a cemetery and wrapped the other three in newspaper and rags and kept them in a small plastic bin with an air freshener.

Their remains were discovered last July by Quirk's daughter, Joanne Lee, who contacted police.

Yesterday, Quirk, 55, of St Helens, Merseyside, admitted four counts of concealing births when she appeared at Liverpool Crown Court.

She said she gave birth to the babies between 1985 and 1995 when her marriage ended and she started drinking heavily.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Bickley, of Merseyside Police, said Quirk had "a chaotic lifestyle" after the failure of her marriage in the late 1980s and "had a number of sexual encounters". Quirk's barrister, Ian Morris, said: "She is at a loss to explain many of the things that were happening in her life at that period."

Two of the babies in the bin were twins – and all four were girls, though Quirk said she only remembered three of them.

A forensic anthropologist told detectives that the babies were born with skeletal abnormalities and foetal growth restriction, and all were full term, but scientists could not determine the cause of the stillbirths.

As she awaits sentence, on 11 October, Quirk's relatives plan to give the four babies a proper burial.