Mother who sealed newborn baby in plastic bags loses murder conviction appeal

Court of Appeal rules murder judgment is ‘not undermined’ by any new evidence

Rory Sullivan
Tuesday 29 June 2021 14:23 BST
<p>Hannah Cobley (right) leaves Leicester Crown Court with an unidentified woman in May 2019. </p>

Hannah Cobley (right) leaves Leicester Crown Court with an unidentified woman in May 2019.

A mother judged to have killed her newborn baby “with chilling clarity of purpose” has lost an appeal against her conviction.

Hannah Cobley, 31, gave birth to the premature child in an outside toilet at her home in April 2017, having hidden her pregnancy from her family and friends.

She then murdered her daughter by forcing something down her throat, assaulting her and leaving her outdoors on the Leicestershire farm where she lived, sealed inside three plastic bags, despite signs she could still be alive.

A post-mortem examination showed the baby suffered three skull fractures and took two hours to die.

In her 2019 trial, the prosecutors argued that Cobley, “with chilling clarity of purpose, deliberately and intentionally killed her baby”.

Cobley did not deny that she had searched “what happens if you drop a newborn baby” and “how long can a newborn baby last without milk and in the freezing cold” on the internet before the murder.

She was found guilty of murder at a trial at Leicester Crown Court two years ago and was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years in prison.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal rejected her diminished responsibility defence, based on a psychiatrist’s claim that she was suffering from severe depressive disorder at the time.

Another consultant psychiatrist, who had been due to give testimony to similar effect at her 2019 trial, withdrew his opinion after seeing her give evidence, saying he “no longer believed that her mental functioning had been sufficiently disturbed as to explain her actions”.

Lady Justice Macur, one of the three judges at the recent hearing, said Cobley’s internet searches proved that the killing was premeditated, which went against the new psychiatric evidence.

“The internet searches and (Cobley’s) contemporaneous accounts and conversations do not support the proposition that she was delusional or that the fatal event was spontaneous,” she explained.

The court therefore found that Cobley’s conviction is safe and “is not undermined” by any new evidence.

Additional reporting by PA

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in