Mother, 21, who hid her dead baby in a hedge avoids jail as judge says she was ‘blameless’

A young mother who gave birth without knowing she was pregnant and then hid her dead baby in a hedge today walked free from court after a district judge decided she was ‘blameless’ despite her guilty plea.

Lisa Blagden, gave birth to Ivory Rose aged 20  in the bathroom of her family home in December 2019, having been ‘groomed’ from a young age by an older man. 

A court heard that the 21-year-old passed out from the loss of blood and when she woke up was unable to revive her newborn daughter.  

Panicking, Blagden then cut the umbilical cord with a pair of scissors, wrapped the dead child in a Primark towel and hid her in a nearby bush so she could visit her every day, Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard.

After the body was discovered by a member of the public in January last year, Blagden was arrested along with her mother and sister. However, her mental health deteriorated due to the trauma of the events.

The court heard police also interviewed the baby’s father, an unnamed 50-year-old who was said to have ‘no interest in the baby’s birth or death’ and who District Judge Roderick Hine described as ‘despicable’.

Today, Blagden, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to concealing her baby’s death but was given an absolute discharge after the judge said she had ‘suffered enough punishment’. 

Rhys Evans, prosecuting, told the court: ‘She had not been aware of the pregnancy. She was home alone on the 27th December 2019 when she experienced what she believed at the time was extreme period pains.

‘She ran a bath to ease the pain. She experienced the pain again and Ivory Rose was born in the bathroom.’

Police recovered the body of a baby girl in Portsmouth, Hampshire on January 25, 2020

Police recovered the body of a baby girl in Portsmouth, Hampshire on January 25, 2020

Mr Evans described how the baby was alive and crying, so Blagden picked her up from the floor then collapsed. He added: ‘When she awoke, Ivory Rose was beneath her and no longer breathing. She tried to revive the child unsuccessfully.

‘She believed she would be arrested and blamed for her death so she cut the umbilical cord with a pair of bathroom scissors.

‘She wrapped Ivory Rose in a yellow towel and a t shirt, took her outside, placed her in a bush close to the address.’

He explained that she had chosen this spot on a nearby hedge because it was visible from her bedroom window.

‘She didn’t tell anyone in her family what had happened for fear of upsetting or disappointing them,’ he added.

Mr Evans told the court the father, a man 30 years older than Blagden, was spoken to by police who described him as ‘having little interest in the circumstances of Ivory Rose’s birth of her death’.

Ivory Rose was found on the street about 50m from Blagden’s home after it was concluded animals had moved her from the hedge.

Police interviewed Blagden’s mother and sister as they conducted enquiries at nearby addresses. They told the police nobody in the house had been pregnant, as Blagden had told nobody at this point.

It was not until DNA samples matched Blagden to the baby that she was arrested along with her mother and sister.

During this interview, police officers were the first people Blagden told about the birth, and death, of her baby.

A post mortem into the baby's death was 'inconclusive'

A post mortem into the baby’s death was ‘inconclusive’

Mr Evans added: ‘Sadly, the tragic circumstances around Ivory Rose’s birth and death have negatively impacted her own mental health significantly, as has significant press interest and social media activity.

‘Because of her concealment, Ivory Rose was deprived the dignity of a proper burial. Her whole family has had to be uprooted and moved because of this offence.’

He said Blagden had to be sectioned under the mental health act for nine days from May 20 last year after she had a psychotic breakdown and experienced hallucinations in which her baby was still alive.

Becky Strong, defending, said she had ‘been punished far, far greater’ than any potential court sentence.

She added: ‘She had formed a friendship with a male who was significantly older than her and she formed this friendship at a young age.

‘She looked at this person as a father figure, which she did not have at the time. Over the course of the years, this changed from him, making this into a sexual nature. This was not something she wanted.

‘She had not discussed it with her family that it had become of a sexual nature.

‘She had absolutely no idea she was pregnant, she was still having periods on a regular basis, she had lost weight.

‘Her shock to give birth to a child she didn’t know she was pregnant with must have been in itself, I can’t even imagine what she was going through.’

A court heard Lisa Blagden did not know she was pregnant when she gave birth to Ivory Rose aged 20 in the bathroom of her family home, having been 'groomed' from a young age

A court heard Lisa Blagden did not know she was pregnant when she gave birth to Ivory Rose aged 20 in the bathroom of her family home, having been ‘groomed’ from a young age

Ms Strong said Blagden thought the baby would be OK if she took it outside and so walked around with the child in her arms for a long time.

She said she chose the spot in the bush because it was Blagden’s ‘safe space’ where she went whenever she was bullied as a child and she could see it from her window.

The court heard Blagden visited the baby every day for about four weeks, until the night before then body was taken by animals.

Miss Blagden told the court by video link: ‘I was there every single day until the day she was found.’

Ms Strong added that Blagden tried to tell her mum what had happened at some point after the birth but the father of the baby had stopped her and ‘he reminded her that everyone would disown her’.

She said: ‘She was just a frightened, vulnerable girl not feeling she could turn to anyone to help her.

‘Her decisions, or lack of decisions at the time will haunt her.’

Sentencing, the district judge said: ‘This indeed is a tragic case. It’s difficult to imagine a more tragic circumstance… difficult to imagine what shock she must have felt when this baby was born in the bathroom.

‘It led to her collapsing, from loss of blood no doubt, and waking to find the baby was not breathing.

‘She is a young mother, abandoned by a man who I can only describe as despicable. He tried to cover up himself which is all he was worried about.

‘He was clearly grooming her. I can’t imagine someone more morally scrupled.’

DDJ Hine said visiting the child every day for four weeks was ‘the only way psychologically she could deal with it’.

The judge decided to give Blagden an absolute discharge, stating ‘She has already suffered enough punishment’.

He added: ‘I hope anyone reporting this can make it clear that she is blameless and so is her family.’

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