A London judge held a young woman who concealed the birth of two stillborn babies and disposed them of secretly deserved sympathy. She was given only a nine-month suspended sentence.
She had stashed away one of the babes in a shoe box and buried another in her father's garden. The judge felt she was not responsible for her actions and described the events a tragedy.
AdvertisementKerry Ardis, 21, concealed the pregnancies from both the natural fathers and delivered the stillborn babies herself over a three-year period.
The corpses were discovered by her father Alan at his home in the Keyham area of Plymouth.
The badly decomposed body of an infant girl was found in her old bedroom at her father's house in 2005 and the body of a boy was found buried earlier this year.
Ardis, who works as a beautician, pleaded guilty to four charges of concealing the birth of two infants and preventing the 'decent burial' of the babies.
She was handed a nine-month suspended sentence by Judge Francis Gilbert, who called the case 'a tragedy'.
He said: 'I'll make it clear that I do not hold you responsible for the death of either baby and on that basis this case is a tragedy for you and your family for which you deserve sympathy and understanding rather than punishment.
'Both times you were young and had to go through the ordeal of having two stillborn babies alone.'
Judge Gilbert said the maximum sentence for the crime would have been two years, but that no guideline cases were available for comparison.
He also placed Ardis under a two-year supervision order.
Tracey Baker, defending, said psychiatric reports on her client revealed she had 'no identifiable mental illness' but was suffering from 'mixed anxiety and depressed mood'.
Speaking after her guilty plea last month, Ardis said: 'I am absolutely devastated. I did something stupid. I made a mistake. I just could not let them go, not because I was a criminal or anything sinister.
'The first time I didn't even know I was pregnant - both me or the father didn't know.
'It was a pretty big shock when I started bleeding and there was a baby. Within a few minutes it was all over and I was holding a baby.
Plymouth Crown Court heard how the first body was discovered by Alan Ardis on August 11, 2005.
Ardis, 52, began to notice a bad smell and had assumed his then teenage daughter had left food to fester in her bedroom.
But he made the grim discovery after tracing the source of the smell to a shoe box that Ardis had hidden in her wardrobe.
She confessed to her father but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) chose not to press charges.
But in May 29 this year, the father was working in his garden when he discovered the corpse of a second baby inside a box wrapped in black plastic.
Ardis, of Plymouth, initially claimed that the boy was the twin of her first still-born girl, but tests revealed the baby's death was more recent.
Devon and Cornwall Police launched an investigation and the CPS decided to prosecute on the grounds of public interest.
She was accused of 'endeavouring to conceal the birth of a child of which she had delivered by the secret disposition of the dead body of the said child between July 1, 2005 and November 11, 2005'.
She also faced a similar charge committed between May 4 and June 7 this year and preventing the lawful and decent burial of her babies in 2005 and 2008.
A funeral has now been planned for both babies and their natural fathers are expected to attend.
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