Hythe baby death: Mother warned she faces life in jail for murder of baby abandoned alive in woods

Police searched the woodland after the baby boy was discovered in March 2020. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The wife of a former soldier has been warned she faces life behind bars after being found guilty of the murder of her newborn baby by abandoning him in woodland.

Silipa Keresi, 38, was convicted at Winchester Crown Court of the murder of baby Maliki Keresi who was found dead at Hythe, near Southampton.

The court heard she abandoned the infant after she discovered she was pregnant too late to have an abortion.

He was found wrapped in a bath towel in woodland near to the defendant's home in the New Forest, Hampshire, on March 5 2020.

The trial heard there was evidence the baby boy had been alive when she left him in the woods, and a post-mortem examination found the cause of death was "omission of care".

Keresi told the court that her life had been "hell for the past couple of years" as her family lived homeless and in a small hotel room, surviving on contributions from food banks.

The defendant said: "I felt my life was just chaos."

The newborn baby boy was discovered by a dog walker in woodland near Southampton. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The trial heard that Keresi, who is originally from Fiji, and married to a former Commonwealth soldier in the British Army, was stressed at the time of the birth by the process of applying for permission to stay in the UK, combined with financial difficulties.

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, told the trial that in November 2019, Keresi visited the British Pregnancy Advisory Service seeking a termination.

But she had left the appointment distressed after a scan revealed she was 26 weeks and 5 days pregnant - past the legal limit of 24 weeks for an abortion.

Miss Maylin said: "Silipa Keresi appeared very shocked, she became visibly uncomfortable, she got off the bed abruptly and tried to leave."

She said that several attempts were made by the midwife service to contact the defendant during her pregnancy, including a visit to her home, but she failed to attend appointments.

Flowers were left near where the baby was found in March 2020. Credit: ITV News Meridian

A post-mortem showed that the baby boy breathed and excreted following birth and would have suffered from hypothermia, the court heard.

The autopsy found that Maliki had no abnormalities or injuries and the cause of death was given as "omission of care".

A police appeal to find the mother was launched after the discovery of his body and the defendant was traced after a midwife came forward.

The judge, Mr Justice Garnham, adjourned the case for sentencing next Thursday, and remanded Keresi into custody.

He told her: "There is only one sentence available to the court, which is life imprisonment."