Bristol

Charlotte Bevan death: Bristol mother and baby inquests opened

Charlotte Bevan Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption Charlotte Bevan left the hospital with her baby wrapped in blankets

Inquests into the deaths of a mother and her baby daughter who went missing from a Bristol hospital have been opened and adjourned until April.

Charlotte Bevan vanished from St Michael's Hospital with Zaani Tiana Bevan Malbrouck on 2 December.

The bodies of Ms Bevan, 30, and four-day-old Zaani, were found on the Avon Gorge on 3 and 4 December respectively.

Avon Coroner's Court heard post-mortem examinations had been carried out but more tests were needed.

CCTV footage released after the pair disappeared showed the new mother, from Clifton, in Bristol, leaving the hospital without a coat, wearing hospital slippers, carrying her daughter in a blanket.

No members of Ms Bevan's family were present at the 10-minute hearing, which was opened by Assistant Coroner Dr Peter Harrowing.

He told the court there would be "separate and distinct" inquests into the deaths of the mother and daughter.

"But given the circumstances of which their deaths occurred it was appropriate to deal with matters at the same time," he said.

Coroner's officer Alex Basson said Ms Bevan was pronounced dead by a paramedic at 21:17 on 3 December in the Avon Gorge.

"She was identified by her uncle to a detective constable," Mr Basson told the hearing at Flax Bourton, near Bristol.

"The circumstances surrounding her death were that the deceased had recently given birth to a baby daughter and was seen on CCTV to leave St Michael's Hospital in Bristol with child on 2 December.

"Her lifeless body and that of her child, also lifeless, was later found following a police search in a gully in Avon Gorge having apparently fallen."

Image caption CCTV captured Charlotte Bevan leaving St Michael's Hospital

Mr Basson said Zaani was born on 28 November and she was confirmed dead by a paramedic at the Avon Gorge at 15:02 on 4 December.

"She was identified by hospital wristbands to a detective constable at the Avon Gorge," he said.

The court heard post-mortem examinations had been carried out by Dr Russell Delaney who has provided provisional reports to the coroner.

"We await the final report subject to histology and toxicology examination," Mr Basson said.

Mr Basson said he was not in possession of any medical cause of death relating to Zaani.

"I have spoken at length to the investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Russell Jones, and clearly the investigation into the deaths of Charlotte and Zaani is well under way," he said.

"They anticipate having their investigative report available in about eight weeks' time."

Image caption Police cordoned off an area above Avon Gorge during the search

The court heard that the reports from Ms Bevan's GP and both the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, who had dealings with her, and the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which runs St Michael's Hospital, had been requested.

Dr Harrowing said the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence had recently updated its guidelines for health professionals working with pregnant women who were at risk of mental health problems.

"I think it is important that we ensure that both the mental health partnership and the University Hospitals Bristol address those guidelines in the reports they prepare," he said.

"They should be able to provide information and evidence of how those guidelines were applied in respect of Charlotte Bevan."

A provisional date for the full hearing was fixed for 16 April.

A funeral for Ms Bevan and Zaani will be held at Christ Church in Clifton at 13:00 on Friday.

Her family has asked those attending to wear bright clothing and not to bring any cut flowers.

A private cremation will take place for family only following the funeral.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites