England

Teenage girls detained over baby kidnap plot

Holly Kelland and Cody Farrar Image copyright Derbyshire Police
Image caption Holly Kelland, from Wellingborough, and Cody Farrar, from Evesham, both admitted conspiracy to kidnap

Two teenage girls - including one who had been faking a pregnancy - have been detained for conspiring to kidnap three babies.

Holly Kelland, 17 at the time, contacted new mothers through a bogus Facebook profile and offered free baby clothes to get their addresses.

Her friend Cody Farrar, also 17, posed as a social worker and persuaded a mother in Derby to hand over her baby.

Both have been given 12-month detention and training orders.

How Facebook baby kidnap plot was foiled

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Derbyshire Police believe Kelland, now 18, intended to pass the baby off as her own.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Holly Kelland researched how to fake a pregnancy online, and even bought fake baby scans

Det Sgt Duncan Gouck said: "She had obviously created a story around her pregnancy and that story was maintained over a period of time to family and friends.

"I can only assume the offences were committed in order for that false reality to continue into the future."

The bogus Facebook profile was set up in the name of Clare Farrant and was used to try to obtain the addresses of new mothers by offering them free designer baby socks.

A mother in Huddersfield was contacted first, on 14 September, but she gave her mother's address instead of her own and the girls did not visit her.

Image caption Holly Kelland contacted the mothers using a Facebook profile under the name Clare Farrant

A woman in Derby was then contacted on 20 September, and was duped into giving her address with the promise of free socks and a raffle prize of £100 of baby clothes.

The girls visited her the next day and Farrar, posing as a social worker, said she needed to take the baby away for a health check.

The 20-year-old mother handed her baby to Farrar, but then became suspicious.

Later that day the girls contacted a mother in Wolverhampton in their third attempt to kidnap a child, but were foiled.

How the girls were caught

Image caption The grandmother of the Derby baby discovered another kidnap attempt was being planned and warned the mother
  • The girls tried but failed to kidnap a two-week-old boy from Derby on 21 September - so they contacted another mother, this time in Wolverhampton, later that same day
  • The Derby mother suspected the kidnap attempt was linked to the offer of baby clothes from the "Clare Farrant" Facebook account
  • The grandmother of the Derby baby monitored the bogus Facebook account and noticed a video of a faked prize draw which produced the name of a mother in Wolverhampton on a piece of paper out of a bowl
  • The Wolverhampton mother's Facebook account was tagged in the video, so the Derby grandmother sent a message to warn her
  • The Wolverhampton mother asked "Clare Farrant" for a phone number, and police used this phone number to trace Cody Farrar
  • Police enquiries then led to Holly Kelland - who repeatedly told police she was seven months pregnant and had no reason to take a baby
  • Analysis of Holly Kelland's iPad showed she had been researching how to fake a pregnancy, so police checked her medical records and found no evidence she was expecting a child

Kelland, who lived in Wolverhampton at the time of her arrest but later moved to Wellingborough, also pleaded to three counts of fraud by false representation.

She used the same bogus Facebook account to offer Segways for sale, took hundreds of pounds from three customers but never supplied the Segways.

Derby Youth Court heard she had serious mental health problems and had been the victim of bullying and domestic violence.

Image caption Holly Kelland, left, and Cody Farrar were sentenced in Derby earlier

Her barrister Elaine Stapleton said she had previously been pregnant but had lost the child and had been subjected to domestic violence.

Farrar, from Evesham, Worcestershire, was described in a pre-sentence report as being "immature for her age".

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Media captionDet Insp Richard Burton reads a statement from the targeted baby's mother

Her barrister Louise Sweet said she was a "very, very troubled young lady who has had a difficult background".

"She is repeatedly described as vulnerable and I hope the court can come to the conclusion that the motives as far as she was concerned were just misguided," she added.

In sentencing the pair, District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said while Kelland's motive "appears to be down to mental health concerns", he had "reservations" about her mental health being the motivation.

"This is a very serious set of circumstances that involved planning and sophistication, to take new-born babies from home addresses, that can only in my view be dealt with by the imposition of immediate custodial sentences," he said.

In a victim impact statement, the Derby mother said she was abused by people for letting the girl into her house and is now "paranoid and distrustful".

"After it happened I kept breaking down at the thought of what could have happened if my baby had been taken. I cried all the time. It ruined the experience of having a young baby.

"Even now I don't trust people and I don't like being home alone."

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