Woman jailed for abducting baby

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The Independent Online
A grandmother was jailed yesterday for abducting a baby from a hospital maternity unit after her husband gave her an ultimatum 14 months into a "fantasy pregnancy".

Susan Brooke, 39, smuggled the baby, Lydia Owens, out of the maternity ward at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan, north Wales, after her husband, Phillip, told her: "If you haven't had the baby by the weekend I'll drag you up to the hospital."

Brooke, of Rhyl, Clwyd, pleaded guilty at Chester Crown Court to abducting Lydia on 10 February this year and to bigamously marrying Mr Brooke on 5 November 1993, while still married to her third husband.

Jailing her for two and a half years for the abduction and six months for bigamy, Mr Justice Scott Baker told her: "You are an accomplished, manipulative and determined liar and somehow succeeded in persuading those close to you first that you were pregnant and then that you had given birth.

"I am satisfied that you planned the abduction of this child with some care. You are not mentally ill. You bear complete responsibility for what you did, and what you did was both cruel and wicked. Abduction of a young child in circumstances like this is devastating for the mother as well as causing her and her family untold agony."

The baby was recovered 20 hours after the abduction when police visited Brooke's home. She broke down crying and admitted: "I shouldn't have taken it. I've done it no harm as you can see. I was afraid my husband was going to leave me. That's why I took the baby. I'm sorry."

The court was told that Brooke managed to dupe her husband that she was pregnant even though she was sterilised after the birth of the youngest of her three children in 1978.