Mum who murdered newborn baby with scissors dies in Cheshire prison aged 32

Rachel Tunstill Credit: Lancashire Police

A mother who stabbed her newborn baby to death with scissors has died in prison.

A prison service spokesperson confirmed that Rachel Tunstill, from Burnley, died in HMP Styal in Cheshire on Tuesday 1 August.

The circumstances surrounding the death are currently unknown.

Tunstill, who killed her daughter Mia Kelly in the bathroom of her home and dumped her body in a bin was later jailed for life.

The 32-year-old was twice jailed for life - the second sentence being handed down in 2019.

She was originally found guilty of murder and jailed for a minimum of 20 years following a trial in June 2017.

Tunstill was serving a life sentence at HMP Styal. Credit: Liverpool Echo

But the conviction was quashed after a Court of Appeal ruling decided the jury in the case should have been offered a verdict of infanticide to consider. A jury at Liverpool Crown Court found Tunstill guilty of murder following a retrial.

She was sentenced to life imprisonment and told to serve a minimum of 17 years before she could be considered for release.

A spokesperson said: "HMP Styal prisoner Rachel Tunstill died in custody on 1 August 2023. As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will investigate."

The court previously heard Tunstill, a psychology graduate, had high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder. She had claimed she was unaware her pregnancy was virtually full-term and thought she was having a miscarriage at the flat in Wellington Court, Burnley, she shared with her partner.

But the court heard the baby was almost full-term and she was 37 to 38 weeks pregnant. The jury was told Tunstill had been charged with murder but jurors were able to consider alternatives of manslaughter, manslaughter with diminished responsibility or infanticide.

The defence said Tunstill’s balance of mind was disturbed in the period following the birth on the evening of 14 January 2017 and that she suffered "an acute stress reaction".

At the time of sentencing the judge said: "This must have been a sustained and frenzied attack on a victim who because of her age was particularly vulnerable. Her duty to her newborn baby was to cradle and comfort her - not to stab her to death.

"There was here in my judgement concealment of the body, albeit short-lived and in addition there was undoubtedly the indignity which was wrought upon the body by disposing of it in the way she did."

"She called for a pair of scissors which Ryan brought to her and she then, unknown to her partner, used these scissors to stab her baby to death."

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