Another newborn premature baby found dead on same recycling plant conveyor belt, inquest hears

The body was discovered after the refuse plant unknowingly collected it

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The Independent Online

The body of a premature baby boy has been discovered on a moving conveyor belt of a recycling plant after being placed in rubbish bags and thrown out.

A shocked worker at the waste facility made the distressing find while he was separating glass and paper from collected rubbish, an inquest heard yesterday, just 18 months after a body of a baby girl was found at the same plant.

Doctors believe the Caucasian baby with blonde or light brown hair - whose body was fractured at the spine, skull and ribs after passing through the plant's machines - was born around four weeks early but died shortly after his mother had given birth.

The end of his umbilical cord had not been clamped and suggests the birth did not happen inside a hospital. Assistant Bradford coroner Olliver Longstaff has re-appealed for public help in finding the mother, who might be in need of medical care.

Gary Normington, who found the unidentified baby, told the hearing that he initially mistook the body for a chicken carcass before noticing that it had a head.

He said: “I shouted to stop and a colleague pulled the cord to stop the conveyor belt. I said something like ‘It’s a baby.’

“I heard someone say ‘Is it?’ I then started to feel sick. I went to sit on the stair well. I then saw the site managers.

“They said ‘are you sure?’ I said ‘yes'. I knew it was obviously human when I saw its head and eyes.”

Mr Normington, who was working at Associated Waste Management in Shipley, West Yorkshire, found the body while sifting through collections from Bradford Council, Leeds Council and private refuse companies.

He added that the discovery was particularly harrowing as he once had a stillborn child and the image brought back “painful memories”.

Site manager Richard Winterbottom told the inquest: “We accept waste from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. The rest of the time is spent processing the waste. We have 300 tonnes delivered each day by 50 wagons.”

Mr Winterbottom added that the site is legally required to process the waste within 24 hours of it being deposited by the refuse wagons. 

Det Supt Jim Harrison of West Yorkshire Police said officers made contact with the local health authorities in West Yorkshire which included Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford, Calderdale and Keighley. DNA tests have been carried out and officers said they found a partial match.

Various people came forward saying they had seen pregnant women on their street who they had not seen in recent months, however Det Supt Harrison said that 15 women who came into the enquiry had been eliminated as they were found to not have been expecting or had given birth to a healthy baby.

Coroner Oliver Longstaff recorded an open verdict and said: “The basis of the evidence shows that the death appeared to have occurred at least a few days before the baby was found.

"Where the baby died we do not know. One of the things I have to determine if I can is whether the baby was a still birth or live.

''On the balance of probability it is my cautious view that it is slightly more likely that this baby was born alive than dead.

"The cause of death remains undetermined because of the state the body was in when it was found.”