Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mum 'suffocated baby, then told husband'

A WOMAN suffering post-natal depression suffocated her four-week-old baby with a pillow and then told her husband what she had done, a Perth court has been told.

Rebecca Doreen Morley, 39, was today granted conditional bail after police had opposed the application in Perth Magistrates Court.
Ms Morley is charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm on the four-week-old boy, who was pronounced dead soon after being found in the family's inner-city Leederville home on June 11.
While the charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, the court was told it may yet be replaced with a charge of infanticide which carries a maximum seven-year jail term.
Dressed in a black top and pants, Ms Morley sat impassively throughout the half-hour bail application.
Her barrister Laurie Levy told the court she had a history of psychiatric problems and had been taking anti-depressants up until she decided to attempt an in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) pregnancy.
She had gone off the anti-depressants under doctor's advice while undergoing the IVF program and after becoming pregnant and giving birth.
Mr Levy said there had been "signs of difficulties" before and after the birth, but while she was seeing a hospital counsellor, little had been done to treat her problems.
She had been prescribed some medication but it did not have the desired effect, Mr Levy said.
He said her disturbed state was evident at the time of the offence, when after suffocating the baby with a pillow, she had "begged her husband to call police straight after".
Ms Morley had since been treated for symptoms including depressive, psychiatric and mood disorders, Mr Levy said.
"The dividing issue is whether she's a danger to herself or the community," Mr Levy said.
"My view is she is neither.
"The tragic circumstances of this particular offence put it in a case completely separate to any grievous bodily harm charge that has come before the court."
Magistrate Joe Randazzo warned police prosecutor Andy Elliott to tone down his "highly emotional" language after Sgt Elliott said Ms Morley was alleged to have "murdered" the baby.
"She held a pillow to the victim's face and then turned to the husband and told him what she had done," Sgt Elliott said.
He said she was undergoing the stress of a failing marriage, and urged Mr Randazzo not to accept an application for Ms Morley to be allowed to live with her brother, who had two children, aged seven and eight.
The court was told the Director of Public Prosecutions did not oppose bail under strict conditions which required her to seek ongoing care at Graylands Hospital.
Mr Randazzo directed that she be allowed to live with her brother, a doctor, when deemed fit to be discharged from the hospital.
She would still have to remain under strict psychiatric care, he said.
Ms Morley was granted bail of $10,000, with a surety of $10,000, to appear in the same court on August 12.


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