A young British woman will spend the rest of her life behind bars after a court found her guilty of murdering her newborn daughter by stabbing her to death.
Prosecutors said Rachel Julie Tunstill, 26, of Burnley, Lancashire, England, gave birth to her daughter, Mia Kelly, in her bathroom at home on Jan. 14 and then stabbed her 15 times with scissors before putting Mia’s body in a kitchen bin, according to the Lancashire Telegraph.
The Irish Mirror reports Tunstill recently was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for murdering her newborn daughter.
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 on the day when Mia was born.
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 because she was pregnant.
Tunstill said she could not remember killing her daughter.
As the BBC reports:
Sentencing Tunstill, Mr Justice Davis said: “The victim was a baby who had barely taken its first breaths.”
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Following the jury’s verdict, Tunstill fell to the floor sobbing loudly as the judge said: “What you did was to take the life of a newborn baby.”
The judge said there was “no way of knowing why this happened”, adding: “It is a truly distressing, dreadful crime.”
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, according to the reports.
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 initially 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.
Kelly told the court: “I was on the Xbox and she was complaining of stomach cramps and she said she was going to have a bath and she just said ‘it’s happening again.’ She told me that she had had a miscarriage before so I thought that she could deal with it this time. I asked her if she needed anything and she told me it was just part of the process.”
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 tests revealed that 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.
Authorities also said they found internet searches on Tunstill’s iPad and cell phone for “bringing about abortion” and other related terms.
Here’s more from the Mirror:
[T]he court heard she was possessive with her boyfriend and appeared to keep secrets from him and in March last year she told him she had a miscarriage when he did not even realise she was pregnant.
Staff at her workplace also became concerned when she complained of stomach cramps and having an ectopic pregnancy.
The following April she fell pregnant again but she kept the pregnancy a secret, never sought any medical assistance or underwent any scans.
Kelly said he feels extremely guilty that he did not realize what had happened. It was only when he arrived home from work the next day and found the police at their house that he learned that Tunstill had given birth to a nearly full-term baby girl.
“If I’d have known what was going on I would have done everything in my power to do something about it,” Kelly told the court.
Prosecuting Louise Blackwell QC added: “[Kelly] said that she was over possessive of him and as a couple they became isolated. He accepted that control because he didn’t get anywhere when he questioned her.”