Baby Gammy: Australian surrogacy who gave up Thai Down Syndrome child 'vanish'

Police could launch a search operation for David and Wendy Farnell

The Australian couple accused of abandoning a surrogate baby because he has Down's syndrome have reportedly gone missing.

Child protection officials visited the home of David and Wendy Farnell in Bunbury, Western Australia, twice today. Their dog was later taken away by animal protection officers. There was speculation that police could launch a search operation.

There was international outrage when it emerged the couple returned from Thailand with a baby girl born to the surrogate mother, but left her twin brother, Gammy, who has Down's, behind.

The agent who brokered the surrogacy deal said that the Farnells had offered to take the boy home.

“In the end, they told me they would take both babies,” the agent said. “They didn't want to be a problem for the surrogate mother any more but she did not take that chance.”

Gammy, now seven months old, is being treated for a lung infection in a hospital near Bangkok and also has heart problems.

Media reports that David Farnell was a sex offender have fuelled the outrage over the case.

Video: Baby Gammy row

According to Australian District Court documents obtained by Reuters, he was jailed in 1997 for a minimum of three years for sex offences involving three girls aged under 13. Reuters said it had been unable to contact Mr Farnell for comment despite repeated attempts to reach him by telephone.

The agent, who only gave her name as Joy, said the surrogate other, Pattaramon Chanbua, 21, had agreed to keep Gammy after discovering he had Down syndrome, fearing she would be asked to abort him, which she would have refused to do as a Buddhist.

But the couple then had a change of heart.

“They said they wanted to take both babies home. When the surrogate mum heard that, she called to say sorry. She said she wouldn't take payment but would keep Gammy,” Joy said, adding the agency had assured Ms Pattaramon she would not have to abort the child.

Joy, who gave up working for the agency several months ago, said no formal contract was ever signed by Ms Pattaramon, the agency and the couple.

Ms Pattaramon said on Sunday that the doctors, the agency and the baby's parents had known Gammy was disabled when she was four months pregnant but only told her in the seventh month.

A Thai official said on Tuesday that a Bangkok clinic may have violated Thailand's regulations on surrogacy and that the head of the clinic could face up to a year in jail.

He declined to identify the clinic, which authorities inspected on Tuesday. They are to check all clinics offering surrogacy services around the country to see if they are respecting regulations.

There are no laws directly relating to surrogacy in Thailand. It is largely tolerated, although commercial surrogacy is against the Medical Council of Thailand's code of conduct.

Surrogacy is allowed if blood relatives of the couple are the surrogates, but exceptions are permitted if such a surrogate is unavailable. The clinic involved in the current controversy was licensed to offer surrogate births under those regulations.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence