A British woman is on trial this week for allegedly stabbing her newborn daughter to death with scissors and then disposing of her body.
Prosecutors accused Rachel Julie Tunstill, 26, of Burnley, Lancashire, England, of giving birth to her daughter, Mia Kelly, in her bathroom on Jan. 14 and then stabbing her 15 times before putting Mia’s body in a kitchen bin, the Lancashire Telegraph reports.
According to court testimony, Tunstill told her partner, Ryan Kelly, 31, that she had miscarried their daughter. She also allegedly told him she had had prior miscarriages and did not need medical attention.
The Express reports Tunstill has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in forensic psychology, and she worked as a manager at a mental health facility.
Prosecutors accused Tunstill of killing her daughter because she was worried about her future career. Other court testimony indicated she may have been afraid of losing her job; one day, her boss allegedly told her that there are strict rules about working in a mental health facility while pregnant and told her to go home if she thought she was pregnant.
Authorities said they learned of the incident after Tunstill went to the hospital on Jan. 16 and told medical staff that she had a miscarriage but did not think it was complete, the report states. Tunstill claimed to be about five weeks pregnant, but medical examinations revealed she was nearly full-term, according to court testimony.
Police investigating the incident quickly arrested Kelly, her partner, but they later learned that Kelly did not know anything about the nature of the baby’s death, according to the reports. He said Tunstill had told him she had another miscarriage.
According to court testimony, two days earlier on Jan. 14, Kelly was playing video games in their home while Tunstill was in the bathroom. Tunstill allegedly told Kelly she was having another miscarriage and did not need medical attention. At one point, Tunstill allegedly asked Kelly for a pair of scissors.
Prosecutors said Tunstill used the scissors to stab her newborn daughter 15 times to kill her; the baby girl was between 36 and 37 weeks, nearly full term. Authorities also said baby Mia was alive when she was born.
Tunstill told police Mia was not breathing when she was born, and she did not know how to resuscitate her. However, prosecutors pointed to evidence that Tunstill had undergone first aid training for work that included child resuscitation, according to the report.
Here’s more from the Telegraph:
Giving evidence, Mr Kelly described how Tunstill made little noise during the three hours she was in the bathroom, but for around 20 minuted he heard an unfamiliar high-pitched sound, ‘which was like water being squeezed out of a plastic bottle’.
Th court heard once baby Mia was dead, Tunstill wrapped her body in two plastic bags, walked past Mr Kelly, and placed the body in the bin.
Tunstill denies murdering her newborn daughter. Defense attorneys said Tunstill does not remember the details of what happened that day, the report states.
Authorities said they found internet searches on Tunstill’s iPad and cell phone for “bringing about abortion” and other related terms.
The jury trial continues in Preston Crown Court this week.