Tower Hamlets baby 'looked like Auschwitz victim'

Royal Courts of Justice
Image caption The baby's mother returned to the UK from Somalia about two years ago

A baby girl looked "like something out of Auschwitz" when she was found by paramedics in her home, a High Court judge has been told.

The baby was declared dead two hours after being discovered, although paramedics thought she was already dead when they found her.

The baby was said to be "extremely malnourished" and when discovered in Tower Hamlets in October 2013.

The baby's mother has admitted to neglect and permitting her death.

She will be sentenced soon.

The mother, thought to be in her late teens, suffered a "profound psychological breakdown" before her daughter's death, the judge said.

She had been married in her mid-teens after being taken from the UK to Somalia and returned to the UK about two years ago after becoming pregnant with her daughter - referred to in court only as baby W.

The judge said British Embassy officials had helped the mother "escape" from Somalia.

'Profound shock'

A consultant paediatrician who produced a report in the case was "highly critical" of some agencies involved, Mr Justice Hayden said.

In particular, Dr Peter Ehrhardt said the circumstances in which the mother came to the UK should have "triggered a greater surveillance of her welfare by the Forced Marriage Unit", the judge said.

"One of the paramedics observed that whilst it was immediately obvious that [baby W] was skinny, he was profoundly shocked when upon cutting off her top she looked, as he put it, 'like something from Auschwitz'," Mr Justice Hayden said.

"She was extremely malnourished, very underweight and she was profoundly dehydrated. Her eyes were sunken into her head. She was of a very pale colour," he added.

"This was a baby in a condition beyond which this experienced paramedic had ever seen before. It is a poignant fact that her weight... was very similar to her initial birth weight."

A Tower Hamlets council spokesman expressed deep sadness at the death of the baby girl.

"Despite the severe difficulties her mother had been through, she was coping well with motherhood until very shortly before the death of her baby," the spokesman said.

"The independent report has concluded that, tragically, the rapid decline of this young woman's mental wellbeing that led to the death of her baby could not have been predicted or prevented."

Detail of the case has emerged in a written ruling by the judge following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Mr Justice Hayden did not name the girl, her parents, or reveal her address.

The judge had been asked to consider a legal issue relating to baby W's father, following the start of civil litigation not related to the dead girl.

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