Police invite mourners to attend funeral for baby girl found dead on footpath in Oxford

Detective Inspector Jim Holmes says he named her Raihana meaning 'heaven's flower'

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The Independent Online

Thames Valley Police have invited mourners to attend the funeral of baby girl found dead near a footpath.

Police announced the baby, who they named Raihana meaning “heaven’s flower”, would be buried at Wolvercote Cemetery in Oxford next week after an eight-month investigation to find her mother failed to generate any leads.

But Detective Inspector Jim Holmes – who picked the name because it is of south-east Asian origin to match the child’s apparent ethnicity –  said it is not too late for the mother to come forward and that she wasn’t in trouble.

He told the Oxford Mail: “Our door is still open to you.

“We know how much the community in Marston and Oxford has been affected by this and everyone in the community is invited to pay their respects at the funeral.

“Unfortunately we have had no responses from anyone claiming to be Raihana’s mother or a member of her family, a friend or an associate at all.

“We recognise how important it is for your baby girl to have a name. 

“I chose the name. Having two children myself I know how hard it is to choose the name for your child and in these circumstances I think it is more important, this is the only memorial there is going to be.”

Since Raihana was found on 29 February the police have made multiple appeals to find her mother but DI Holmes said it was “just as likely” for her to be in Oxford as the other side of the world.

He said it was “difficult” to draw the investigation to a close because it was not “a very common type of investigation”.

“A lot of resources have been committed to this investigation, certainly the first couple of months, we have done extensive enquiries including ourselves and the National Crime Agency.

“A huge amount of social media appeal going across the world and within Oxford, the NHS nationally have been involved, so this will signal the end of that, but we have exhausted pretty much every line of enquiry we can.” he added.

He said it was difficult not to get “emotionally involved” and to “switch those paternal instincts off”. 

At a press conference to invite mourners around the city to the funeral he momentarily broke down in tears before composing himself. 

An inquest held for Raihana in August ruled that she had been stillborn.