Australia

Mother charged for abandoning baby in drain in Sydney

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Media captionThe baby is receiving treatment at Sydney's Westmead Children's Hospital

Australian police have charged a 30-year-old woman with attempted murder after she abandoned her newborn baby in a drain in western Sydney.

They say the baby boy, who is in a serious but stable condition, may have survived up to five days in the drain.

He was discovered 2.5m (8ft) down inside the pit by a group of passing cyclists on Sunday morning.

It took several people to lift the heavy concrete slab to rescue the baby, who was malnourished and dehydrated.

Police believe the baby was born last Monday and 24 hours later was squeezed through the narrow opening of a stormwater drain, falling 2.5 metres.

The baby is currently receiving treatment at Sydney's Westmead Children's Hospital.

Hospital blanket

It is a distressing story of abandonment and an amazing story of survival, says the BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney.

Police doubt the baby would have survived much longer, given that in the past few days Sydney has had record breaking temperatures in excess of 40C, he adds.

David Otte and his daughter were alerted to the baby's crying as they cycled near the M7 motorway at Quakers Hill on Sunday morning, according to local reports.

"It was so intense. You couldn't not tell it was a baby," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Mr Otte as saying.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The baby boy was wrapped in what appeared to be a hospital blanket when he was found
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The cyclists said they "couldn't see it but we could hear it"

"We couldn't see it but we could hear it. It was distressed."

Police said they found the mother after checking hospital records and knocking on doors in the local area.

Local police inspector David Lagats described the discovery of the baby as "disturbing".

He told reporters the baby was found wrapped in a striped blanket similar to what is given to newborn babies in hospital.

"The umbilical cord had been cut and had been clamped so there appears to have been some sort of medical intervention since his birth," he added.

The mother of the baby was represented legally in a Sydney court on Monday but did not appear in person, ABC reports.

She has been formally denied bail and is expected to appear in court on Friday.

The local magistrate reportedly recommended the mother receive post-natal care whilst in custody.

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