Bristol

Bodies of Charlotte Bevan and missing daughter Zaani found

  • 4 December 2014
  • From the section Bristol
Media captionDet Ch Insp Simon Crisp: "I regret to inform you that a short time ago, on the cliff face, close to Charlotte, the body of a small baby girl has been found"

The body of a baby girl has been discovered close to where her mother was found dead following their disappearance from a hospital.

Charlotte Bevan left St Michael's Hospital in Bristol with her four-day-old daughter Zaani, on Tuesday.

Ms Bevan's body was found on Avon Gorge on Wednesday night. Zaani's body was found nearby on Thursday afternoon.

Paying tribute, her mother Rachel Fortune said: "My beautiful daughter and granddaughter are now at peace."

Ms Bevan sparked a major police search when she left the hospital without a coat and wearing hospital slippers, with her baby wrapped only in blankets.

Police, her mother and her boyfriend Pascal Malbrouck, who was Zaani's father, appealed for her to return home after she vanished.

Image caption Charlotte Bevan left the hospital with the baby wrapped in blankets

The hospital has launched a review into the circumstances that led to her disappearance.

Det Ch Insp Simon Crisp said the body of Ms Bevan was found after a member of the public, walking on a cliff-top path, spotted the white hospital slippers and a multicoloured-blanket on the gorge edge.

"As a result of the media coverage that person put two and two together and rang police yesterday evening," he said.

"An extensive search... led to the finding the body of a woman who was later formally identified as Charlotte Bevan.

"The search continued for her new-born daughter.

"A short time ago on the cliff face, close to Charlotte, the body of a small baby girl has been found.

"No formal identification has taken place but we anticipate that's going to be Charlotte's daughter.

"At the moment, we are not treating either death as suspicious."

Image caption A floral tribute was left a short distance from Clifton Suspension Bridge

In a family statement, Ms Fortune thanked everyone involved in the search.

"The response and support from the public has been overwhelming, " she said.

"The family would like to thank all the friends of Pascal, Charlotte and Zaani, some of whom we have only met today.

"We would also like to give our thanks to Avon and Somerset Police and the volunteers from Avon Search and Rescue."

Police described Ms Bevan as a "good mother" who was making "great progress" in hospital.

Friends described her as part of a "happy couple" and said her disappearance was "out of character".

'No powers'

Ms Bevan was believed to have schizophrenia and depression and had been sleep-deprived after giving birth.

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust, which runs St Michael's Hospital, said when women first contact the service they are screened for new and existing mental health problems.

It said women identified as "potentially at risk" would have consultant-led care, the involvement of mental health teams as necessary and the involvement of their GP.

Women thought to be a "danger to themselves or others" would be cared for in a mental health unit and accompanied by a mental heath nurse while in the maternity unit.

But, it added, it had no powers to stop mothers leaving unless there were legal restrictions on her movements.

A trust spokesman said Ms Bevan discharged herself for "reasons unknown" and there had been no signs she was planning to leave.

Bristol City Council said it would "fully anticipate an independent Serious Case Review which would look closely at the circumstances of this case and the role of all agencies involved, including health, mental health and social services".

Image caption Mountain rescue teams searched the steep sides of Avon Gorge
Image caption Undergrowth near the gorge was searched by police teams
Image caption Police cordoned off an area above Avon Gorge

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