Two in court accused of illegal abortion

Elliot Benham and Sophie Harvey, both 23, appeared before Gloucester Crown Court

Claire Hayhurst
Thursday 16 February 2023 11:52 GMT
A man has been arrested in connection with the murder
A man has been arrested in connection with the murder (Getty)

A man and a woman have denied charges relating to illegally aborting a baby.

Elliot Benham, 23, and Sophie Harvey, 23, appeared before Gloucester Crown Court in relation to the offences which are alleged to have taken place between September 1 and December 1 in 2018.

Both denied charges of procuring a poison to cause a miscarriage, concealing the birth of a child, and intending to pervert the course of justice by disposing of the baby’s body.

Harvey also denied a charge of procuring her own miscarriage by poison.

Judge Ian Lawrie KC, the Recorder of Gloucester, said a trial expected to last at least five days would take place at Cirencester Courthouse on November 13.

He told the defendants: “Your trial has been fixed for November 13.

“There is a case review date which will be heard by another judge on May 12. You are required to attend.”

Benham and Harvey spoke only to confirm their names and reply “not guilty” to the charges against them.

Clare Evans appeared for Benham during the hearing on Thursday, while Shusmita Deb represented Harvey.

Gloucestershire Police searched locations in Swindon and Cirencester as part of the investigation in September 2020.

Abortions are legal in England up to 24 weeks’ gestation if carried out by a registered medical practitioner, and can be carried out beyond 24 weeks in very limited circumstances.

It is alleged that in this case, the pregnancy was past 24 weeks and an abortion was not carried out by a medical practitioner.

Causing your own abortion was criminalised under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Benham, of Wingfield, Swindon, and Harvey, of St Mary’s Road, Cirencester, were released on conditional bail.

They will next appear before Gloucester Crown Court on May 12.

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