Bristol

Claudia Martins trial: Sister weeps over baby in suitcase

A woman wept as she told a jury how she found a suitcase containing the body of her sister's newborn baby.

Claudia Martins, 33, denies murdering her baby girl by filling her mouth with toilet paper, shortly after birth.

Bristol Crown Court heard Vilma Martins raised the alarm after noticing a smell coming from a suitcase in her sister's room.

The defence said the baby had been stillborn and was hidden by the defendant out of "panic".

The Home Office doctor who examined the body told the jury it had not been possible to determine definitively whether the baby was stillborn or born alive, due to the degree of decomposition.

'Low IQ'

The jury heard Vilma Martins discovered her sister's black suitcase zipped up in her bedroom while looking for her son's towel, three days after she is believed to have given birth.

"When I bent down, the smell hit me. I pulled it open just a little bit and I could see the towel. There was blood on it," she said.

The court heard Claudia Martins gave birth alone at her sister's flat in Knowle, Bristol, on 12 September last year, having allegedly kept the pregnancy a secret.

Paramedics were called after friends found the Portuguese national sitting in the bath with "a lot of blood" and she was taken to hospital.

When police later visited the flat officers discovered the body of a newborn baby inside a small, black suitcase.

Claudia Martins, described as having an extremely low IQ, was arrested and admitted she had given birth but said the baby was stillborn.

A post-mortem examination found the baby was full-term and normally formed, with no evidence of disease to account for death.

The trial continues.

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