Crying mother takes Abbie's blanket to bed

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The Independent Online
THE SISTER of Karen Humphries, whose newborn daughter, Abbie, was abducted by a bogus nurse nine days ago, spoke yesterday of Karen's unrelenting 'grief, despair and desolation'.

Weeping throughout, Josie Clark, 35, said Karen, 32, was going to bed every night in tears, clutching the blanket Abbie was wrapped in before she was snatched just four hours after being born in a Nottingham hospital.

'My sister gave birth to a beautiful baby just over a week ago. She had her for four hours, four precious hours. She did all the things you do when you have a baby. She fed her, wrapped her in a blanket, she cradled her in her arms. She loved her, she put her in a cot and she just looked at her. Then someone came and just took her away.

'Karen takes that blanket to bed with her. That's all she has. She takes it to bed with her every night, crying. She says, 'it smells of my baby. It smells of Abbie.' '

With Karen Humphries and her husband, Roger, 33, too distraught to make a second public appeal for the return of their baby, it was left to Mrs Clark, a mother of two girls aged eight and six, to plead with the woman who took Abbie to give her back.

She was supported by Roger's sister, Jo Sisson, 31, whose son was delivered by Karen, a midwife, just seven months ago. She asked the abductor to at least phone and let Karen know Abbie was safe and well.

The Humphries made their own appeal to the kidnapper the day after Roger was persuaded to hand his daughter over for a 'routine hearing check'. Mrs Humphries seemed close to collapse. Since then the couple have been waiting for news at a secret address.

Mrs Clark said the Humphries' other child, Charlie, three, was also suffering. 'It should have been the happiest day of Charlie's life and for a short time it was. His daddy took him to the hospital and for 10 minutes they were all together in that room. That's all they had - 10 minutes together. Then someone took her out of that room and out of their lives.

'Now that little boy says, 'Mummy where is the baby? Why don't we have a baby anymore? Mummy don't cry. Please don't cry.' What can she say to him?'

Inspector David Gilbert of Nottinghamshire police admitted yesterday that officers had no strong lead, but said that calls continued to flood in following the issue on Thursday of photofits and video pictures of a suspect caught by a security camera. Any of the 2,000 calls received 'could take us straight to Abbie'.

A man called Gary, who telephoned Central TV on Wednesday night to say his wife had Abbie, has still to contact police again. Inspector Gilbert said his call was being taken seriously but there had been dozens of hoaxers phoning the incident room, claiming they had the baby. Inspector Gilbert said these callers were 'sick' and clogging up the inquiry.

He denied there was a tension between 'old-fashioned police techniques' and the strategy devised with the 'softly, softly' advice of a psychologist, Paul Britton.

There had been grumblings about the police's decision, taken in consultation with the psychologist, to delay the release of the photofits and video pictures while they appealed to the woman who took Abbie to come forward. The fear was that releasing pictures too early would panic the woman and put the child at risk. Police were acting on the theory that the woman might have lost, or was unable to have, her own child.

Abbie's abductor, who disguised herself as a nurse, discarded her uniform in a toilet before walking out of the main entrance to the Queen's Medical Centre with the baby. Witnesses report a woman wearing a wig and sunglasses crossing the busy A52 Derby road in front of the hospital with a baby before disappearing into the surrounding streets. Mrs Humphries was once a midwife at the medical centre.

(Photograph omitted)