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Three months for mum who abandoned baby

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Three months for mum who abandoned baby
The baby girl was wrapped in this sweatshirt. Photo: Police
15:19 CET+01:00
A young woman from Vienna received a three month conditional sentence on Tuesday for abandoning her newborn baby in a stairwell.

Two girls discovered the baby in September 2014, left in a stairway leading to the cellar of the mother's Vienna apartment block.

The 24-year-old defendant said that she had not realised that she was pregnant. “I suspected it at some point but then told myself I couldn’t be because I’d always used contraception,” she said.

She added that the pregnancy had not been visible and that her long-term boyfriend had also not suspected that she was carrying his child. 

Asked by the judge when she had finally realised she was going to have a baby, she replied: “Only when she was born.”

The day before she gave birth the woman, who worked in a shop, had called in sick as she felt unwell. She said that she "went to the toilet, and that's when it all started happening." When she realised she had given birth she said she was "completely overwhelmed and thought to myself that the baby couldn't stay here."

After cleaning her bathroom and wiping up the blood she took her newborn daughter, wrapped her in a sweatshirt, and left her on the cellar steps. She said that she felt physically weak and "mentally unable to think properly". She told the judge that she hadn't meant to put her child's life in danger. 

The baby was found the following afternoon after one of the girls heard a muffled whimpering coming from the cellar stairs. "I thought it was a doll, but then it moved," one of the girls said in a witness statement. 

The baby girl had moderate hypothermia and weighed only 2,27 kilograms, but was otherwise in good health. 

Two days later police were able to trace the young mother and knocked on the door of the apartment she shares with her 30-year-old boyfriend. That was the first time he heard that he had become a father. 

A psychiatric expert, Sigrun Rossmanith, told the court that the young woman came from a broken family and had experienced violence during her childhood. She became pregnant when she was 15, but her son was raised by her grandparents and she was forbidden to see him. 

She succeeded in forging a new life for herself and left behind her miserable and disadvantaged childhood, Rossmanith said. She added that the unexpected birth of a daughter filled the woman with "fear that her life was about to be destroyed", and that she had imagined that if she put the baby "out of sight, out of mind" everything would go back to normal. 

Since mid-October the baby, who was initially taken into care, has been returned to the woman and her partner and every two weeks they are visited by social workers. The mother is also seeing a psychotherapist and must continue to do so after completing her sentence. 

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