The body of a four-day-old baby was found buried in a shoebox after his parents concealed his birth.

And the boy’s death ‘could not have been predicted nor prevented’, a serious case review has found.

Ian Arthur Davies, referred to as ‘Baby C’ in the review, died ‘within a week of birth’, reports the Manchester Evening News .

His birth, death and burial, in August 2016, were concealed by both parents.

The review said the child was not discovered by police until ‘about six weeks after the death’.

“Expert examination of Baby C showed the baby was small, but well into the third trimester (at approximately 36 to 38 weeks’ gestation).

“Baby C was emaciated and there was a likelihood that death ‘was a result of dehydration after three to four days of life’.

“Baby C showed no evidence of injuries or deformities which might have caused death. Baby C had no stomach contents,” it found.



A serious case review was held into the death of the baby (pictured is Bolton Town Hall)

The child’s father, Anthony Clark, and mother, Catherine Davies, who lived in Bolton, were cleared of murder at Manchester Crown Court in December 2017.

They were jailed for 15 months after admitting concealing the birth.

The court heard the couple put the baby’s body in a shoebox at Heaton Cemetery.

At the trial, Davies was described as someone ‘who is disadvantaged in life and who found it difficult to move forward’.

The review, which has just been published by Bolton Safeguardian Children Board – made up of town hall, police, NHS and probation staff – read: “It is difficult to imagine how much Baby C must have suffered during such a short and tragic life.

“Baby C was unwanted, neglected and left to die by both parents.

“The deliberate concealment of the pregnancy from all agencies and the subsequent death of Baby C could neither have been predicted nor prevented.

“It is therefore only possible for this review to look at potential interventions which would support practice and lessen the likelihood of a similar course of events in the future.”

The review found that concealed pregnancy ‘is rare’ and that concealment of a pregnancy, birth and burial by a couple is ‘exceptionally rare’, but there is a ‘well-established connection between concealment of pregnancy and infant mortality’.

No professionals were ‘actively involved or providing services to the couple during the pregnancy, birth and burial’, the review found.

“Therefore, there were no opportunities for practitioners to influence or change the outcome,” the report said.

The review found both parents had ‘difficult childhoods’.

FC (Clark), was in foster care and attended a special school with a diagnosis of ADHD.

He was diagnosed with an emotionally unstable personality disorder with a clinical risk of suicidal ideation and a history of self-harm, but he failed to engage with psychological therapy services offered.

Clark made no further contact with mental health services until after the baby’s death. MC (Davies) was diagnosed as having a borderline personality disorder, the report said.

The relationship between the couple was described as ‘volatile’.

MC (Davies) told police officers Baby C had been born ‘with a deformity and would not take breast milk’.

She told a witness that the baby was not fed with formula because FC (Clark) would ‘not give her any money’.

CCTV footage showed the couple in a public area with the baby while FC (Clark) went into a building. There was a health centre opposite ‘but neither parent sought help for the baby’.

“CCTV also showed the couple shopping for food and alcohol for themselves – but buying nothing for the baby,” the report read.

“When later asked for the name of the baby, MC said that it did not need a name. She stated that there had been no provision for the baby, and it was ‘just left’.

“Some days later, FC (Clark) and MC (Davies) buried the body and then went shopping.”

Whether the conception was ‘a positive choice, or a consequence of the chaotic lifestyle that MC (Davies) and FC (Clark) were living, it was not in the MC’s interests to be pregnant at that time’, the review found.

Several weeks after the death, police received a phone call from a carer for the maternal grandmother (MG). The carer reported that she had been upset by a phone call from her daughter, who had asked for money.

“She had told MG that the reason she had not been in touch for a year was because she had been on drugs and had had a baby who was born at home,” the report added.

“She said that she had given birth and described the baby as deformed,” the review continued.

MC also told her mother ‘that she hadn’t fed the baby, as it wouldn’t take breast milk, and that it had died. She said that she had buried the baby in a shoebox’.

Police spoke to the parents separately and ‘each expressed surprise, with MC stating that MG was lying and confused. FC stated that he had no idea what the police were talking about and that MC had not recently been pregnant’.

House to house enquiries were carried out and police officers spoke to a neighbour. He had been visited by both parents and the father asked him ‘to be quieter’ as MC was pregnant and needed to sleep.

“They told the neighbour that they had not told anyone about the pregnancy,” the report added.

The couple were arrested and both gave information that led to the discovery of the baby’s body in a cemetery near established graves.

A search of the home uncovered handwritten papers and notebooks, which appeared to have been written by MC to FC and ‘gave an account of Baby C’s birth and tragically short life’.

The notes described ‘negative feelings towards the pregnancy’.

The review found that as the parents were ‘disengaged from services’ and there were no opportunities for services to influence the course of events in the months leading up to the conception of Baby C.

“The key issue has, therefore, to be whether anything could have been done to prevent FC and MC’s disengagement or to prevent the pregnancy,” the report read.

“What is clear is that MC was observed to have a degree of ambivalence to parenthood.”

They were recorded as angry and focused their anger on children’s services, the report said.

It found the mother ‘demonstrated a desire to continue and prioritise a relationship with FC’.

She was not ready to accept support to separate, the report said.

The serious case review made a serious of recommendations.

It urged the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group to consider developing a system of notification letters to the GPs of parents who have experienced the traumatic loss of a child.

The notification letter ‘should highlight the vulnerability of these parents and invite consideration of appropriate health responses’, the board said.

John Brimley, chairman of Bolton Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Any death of a child is a tragedy, but this a particularly shocking and upsetting case.

“On behalf of the Bolton Safeguarding Children Board, I would like to offer my condolences to all those affected, and to express my sadness on the loss of such a young life.

“Cases like this are extremely rare, and this independent report looks closely to see if any opportunities were missed to offer the family support and guidance, and to protect Baby C.

Read More

Top news stories from Mirror Online

“The independent reviewer has thoroughly reviewed the circumstances and has concluded that this death could not have been predicted or prevented, as both parents had completely disengaged from all support services for a significant period of time before the pregnancy, and did not seek support from services during the pregnancy, or after the birth.

“The mother was also not registered with a GP. This meant that any sort of intervention by any agency was impossible.

“This has been a very tragic and difficult case for all the individuals involved, and all agencies have engaged positively in this very important review.

“However, I would like to highlight the tenacity shown by GMP in conducting this investigation, without which we might never have known the details of this baby’s short and tragic life.”