Hythe baby murder: Ex-solder's wife who left newborn son to die in woods is jailed for life

Silipa Keresi
Silipa Keresi was convicted of murder by a jury. Credit: Hampshire Police

The wife of a former soldier who left her newborn baby son to die in woodland in the New Forest has been jailed for life with a minimum term of nine years.​

Silipa Keresi, who has today been pictured for the first time, was convicted of murder following a jury trial.

The court heard how she had wrapped baby Maliki in a towel and left him by a tree off Shore Road, Hythe, close to her home.​

Maliki was found by a dog walker in woodland near Southampton on the afternoon of March 5, 2020.

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

She told the trial her life was in "chaos" during that period, in which her family had been homeless, living in temporary hotel accommodation, and surviving off foodbanks.

Baby Malaki was found wrapped in a towel off Shore Road, Hythe

Silipa Keresi, of Hythe, was arrested last March, and denied murder, and an alternate charge of infanticide.

She was found guilty by a jury at Winchester Crown Court earlier this week.

Her 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.

She said: "I felt my life was just chaos."​

The trial also heard that Keresi, who is originally from Fiji, and married to a former Commonwealth soldier in the British Army, was in financial strife and in the process of applying for permission to stay in the UK at the time she became pregnant.

Keresi had sought a termination, but left the appointment distressed after a scan revealed she was 26 weeks and 5 days pregnant - just past the abortion legal limit of 24 weeks.

Her shock and discomfort was noted at the appointment, and efforts to contact her about her pregnancy failed, the court was told.

A post-mortem showed that newborn Maliki breathed and excreted following birth and would have suffered from hypothermia before dying in the woods.

Justice Garnham QC, sentenced Keresi to life in prison on Thursday, with a minimum term of nine years before she can be considered for parole.

Tributes left for baby Maliki in Hythe, Hampshire.

Upon sentencing, he told the court: "The abandonment of Malakai was an act of desperation by a vulnerable woman, facing challenging circumstances.

Addressing Keresi as he sentenced her to prison, the judge added: "The emotional effect of your giving birth outdoors and unaccompanied was profound."

​Speaking after the sentencing, Senior Investigating Officer Acting DCI Adam Edwards said: "The death of baby Maliki Keresi is truly heartbreaking and no sentence will ever be able to bring him back or give him the life he deserved.​

"I want to take this chance to speak to any new or expecting mothers who find themselves in a situation or circumstance which may lead them considering such extreme actions as those we have seen in this case; please know, there is always help out there for you.​

"There are many organisations, charities and professionals who can provide you with support and advice.

​"Today's sentencing is the culmination of many hours of hard work by our investigation team, and the work of experts who provided important evidence."