Sherburn mum jailed for late term abortion

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Police have begged a mum of two with a history of secret pregnancies and abortions to tell them where her baby’s body is after a court heard how she bought a drug off the internet so she could miscarry her lover’s child in the final week of her term.

Married Sarah Catt, 35, had been having an affair with a work colleague for seven years and believed the child to be his so she scoured the internet for information about drugs that could be used to terminate a pregnancy.

Sentencing Catt, who has never revealed where her baby’s remains are, to an eight-year jail term on Monday, Mr Justice Cooke told her the crime was one step short of murder.

Leeds Crown Court heard that before her shocking crime, Catt has had one baby adopted and one terminated. She also attempted to terminate another pregnancy but was past term and gave birth to a daughter. She also gave birth to a second child, a pregnancy she kept secret from her husband until the baby came.

Catt, of Sherburn-in-Elmet, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to administering poison with intent to procure a miscarriage.

Searches carried out by police showed she had ordered the drug Misoprostol off the internet from a site based in Mumbai and it was delivered to her house on May 10, 2010.

The court heard that in March, Catt had attended the Leeds branch of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service to seek a termination. They gave her a scan and the estimate of the baby’s gestation was 26 weeks and three days, the legal limit for a termination is 24 weeks.

Disputing this, she went for another scan the next day at St James’s Hospital in Leeds where the pregnancy was calculated at 29 weeks and five days - a period she would be aware was “clearly beyond the the legal limit of termination”.

Refusing to check in with her healthcare team for checks, she later told them she had a termination at the Marie Stopes clinic in Manchester, a claim she maintained throughout police questioning.

Mr Justice Cooke said: “You told the psychiatrist that you acted alone and took the drugs while your husband was away.”

He added that she delivered the baby in her bathroom and it was stillborn and she “buried the baby but refused to disclose the location”.

“There is no reason to believe you could not have delivered a healthy baby boy,“ said Mr Justice Cooke.

He added that if he had been born and “in the next few days you killed him you would be charged with murder”.

He said the seriousness of the crime lay somewhere between manslaughter and murder.

“What you have done is rob an apparently healthy child, vulnerable and helpless, of the life he was about the commence,” he added.

It is thought she took the drug at the end of May 2010, when Catt was in her last week of term, her due date for full term birth was May 28.

North Yorkshire Police began investigating in August 2010 after concerns were raised by health professionals. They uncovered searches on her computer, dated when she would have 39 and 40 weeks pregnant, asking how long does the drug take to work and “what happens if the GP thinks I’ve had an illegal abortion”.

Emotionless Catt was later interviewed by police for a total of nine-and-a-half hours maintaining she had had a legal abortion. She had no written record of the appointment and claimed to have paid 1,700 pounds in cash which, she claimed, was siphoned from her bank account without her husband’s knowledge.

Police said that, after the due date, Catt’s internet searches changed to exploring the legality of medical professionals sharing her records with the police and searching details of the offence of Child Destruction.

After the case, police said searches of Catt’s previous address with specialist dogs and penetrating radar were carried out but no remains were found.

Simon Waley, prosecuting, told the court that Catt had been having an affair with a co-worker for a “period up to seven years”, the court heard that she believed the child was his and told him but not her husband.

Then in January 2010, she told told him “there is no baby” and it’s not his concern. Their relationship had broken up, but then started again on an occasional basis in the summer of 2011.

Chief Inspector Kerrin Smith, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “I only hope now that Catt has been sentenced and has the time to reflect on her actions, that she will reveal where the body of her baby is, so that we can ensure a compassionate conclusion to this very sad investigation.”

She added: “This was an unusual, disturbing and very complicated case to investigate.

“One of the difficulties faced by the investigation team was convincing other parties in the criminal justice system that a woman could conceal a full-term pregnancy from all around her, even her husband. And that she could give birth and then carry on every-day activities.

“Catt’s previous history with regard to her pregnancies and in her admissions to the police, show that she is more than capable of being extremely deceitful in her actions. She also had her own reasons for not sharing the news of the pregnancy with her husband.

“Catt has proved to be cold and calculating and has shown no remorse or given an explanation for what she did.”

Mr Justice Cooke told Catt that “concealment and deception” had played a part in her relationships with her parents, her employer and her husband.

Frances Oldham QC, mitigating, said: “This is a highly unusual case in the 21st century” and added that her client is “an intelligent woman, she is educated and she had life experience” with a “complicated emotional history”.

She added that Catt and her husband are still together.