15-year-old who secretly gave birth and left her newborn baby in bin identified by coroner

·4 min read
The babies mother gave birth in secret while babysitting. (Getty)
The baby's mother gave birth in secret while babysitting. (Getty)

The identity of a teenage mother who left her newborn baby in a wheelie bin has been revealed after a coroner lifted an anonymity order against her.

Zoe Rae, 15 at the time, wrapped baby Oliver Rae in towels and a plastic bag before putting him into a bin near her home in Blackpool, in August 2018.

A post-mortem examination revealed the baby was alive when he was born, although Rae claims to have believed he was stillborn, and may have survived for up to two hours.

However, Oliver's body was recovered from the wheelie bin by police at around 6pm on 9 August, 2018 – some hours after he was placed there.

Blackpool Coroner's Court heard on Wednesday the infant was still breathing when he was wrapped up and suffocation played a role in his death.

Rae, now 18, gave birth in secret, during a babysitting shift, at around 11.30am on 9 August, the court heard.

At 12.19pm, she Google searched 'how to cut an umbilical cord'. She then placed the newborn underneath a sink and cleaned up the blood with towels.

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The court was told thirty minutes later, the boy she was looking after went upstairs and found her curled up on a bed surrounded by bloodstains. She told him she had had a nosebleed.

The boy went back downstairs and Rae followed four minutes later with her baby, who she had wrapped in some clothes and placed on a table.

At around the same time, the boy reported hearing the sound of a baby crying.

He went into the kitchen and saw the bundle of clothes on the table with "feet and legs" sticking out of it.

His babysitter told him it was a doll, the court heard.

The boy went back into the living room where he used his electronic tablet to Google whether 15-year-olds could get pregnant.

He heard the back door and gate opening, and when he returned to the kitchen the bundle of clothes had gone, it was heard.

Coroner Andrew Cousins said the case was one of the most difficult of his career. (Google)

At around 2.10pm Rae's mother returned to the home and called 999, though her daughter begged her not to, the court heard.

They were taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where nurses suspected there had been a concealed birth and alerted the police.

After talking with the 15-year-old, a search was carried out and the full-term newborn was found dead in the wheelie bin outside, wrapped in a plastic bag.

On Wednesday, three different doctors told the court they could not say for sure whether the baby had suffocated, as such a death leaves behind no evidence.

But after hearing witness evidence, coroner Andrew Cousins ruled it was highly likely the infant was still alive when he was placed in the plastic bag.

Handing down a narrative conclusion, he said: "The baby was born in poor condition and his health was deteriorating.

"After 1pm he was placed in a bin bag and into a wheelie bin.

"He was alive when placed into the bin bag, but was exhibiting minimal signs of life."

Mr Cousins said the young boy who was a witness in the case was "intelligent" and "mature for his age" and that he clearly understood the importance of telling the truth.

He added: "In contrast, I have difficulty accepting the evidence from Zoe in this case."

He added her answers were "evasive" and told the court he "could not place a great deal of worth on the answers given by [her]".

The court heard Rae denied ever suspecting she was pregnant, despite her phone exhibiting searches such as 'how to end a pregnancy in the first week' and 'how to abort at home'.

Mr Cousins said: "Zoe was able to locate scissors to cut the umbilical cord, move into the bedroom to lie down, move downstairs with bloodstained towels to put them outside, move downstairs with Oliver sitting down so she wouldn't fall... she was able to place the baby in the middle of the table.

"All this indicates she was capable of rational thought which is then abandoned when Oliver is placed into the bin bag."

However, he rejected a conclusion of unlawful killing, as it was "highly likely" the baby was born in a poor condition and his health was deteriorating.

He added Rae may have been unable to hear the baby crying or struggling to breathe due to ringing in her ears.

He said: "It is right to say that this case is one of the most difficult that I have conducted in my career. One cannot help but feel sympathy for all persons in this case."

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