CCTV captures the moment ‘stressed’ soldier’s Fijian wife, 38, dumped her newborn son in woodland and left him to die
CCTV footage captured the chilling moment a soldier’s wife carried her newborn baby to woodland where she left him to die.
Silipa Keresi was yesterday found guilty of leaving son Maliki to die while wrapped in a towel at the foot of a tree in the New Forest.
The prosecution outlined how CCTV captured the heavily pregnant Mrs Keresi, carrying the blanket from the Fountain Court Hotel in Hythe, Hampshire – where she was living at the time – towards woodland, just before 5am on March 5, 2020.
Maliki was found with his umbilical cord still attached, by a dog walker. A post-mortem showed he would have suffered from hypothermia.
The 38-year-old, who has four other children, had requested an abortion months before his birth but was told it was too late, a court heard.
After her arrest, she told social workers she had been feeling under pressure after her husband left the military and she was worried about her immigration status.
Prosecutors said that while she had tried to be a good mother, she had ‘snapped’.
The Fijian national had denied charges of infanticide and murder but was yesterday found guilty unanimously by a jury.
Silipa Keresi (pictured) was found guilty of killing Maliki, who was found at the foot of a tree after being wrapped in a towel
Jurors were shown CCTV of Ms Keresi before the body of her newborn baby was found as she left the Fountain Court Hotel in Hythe early on March 4 last year. Ms Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, said: ‘What we see is a figure with a white item over their shoulder at 04:51am. About 20 minutes later a figure walks past the farm gate with no white item over their shoulder’
Opening the case, Ms Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, said: ‘On Thursday March 5 the police were contacted by a man called Michael Dorsett.
‘He had found a baby wrapped in a blanket. He had been out for a walk with his dog in a woodland in Hythe, in the New Forest.
‘As he walked [at about two o’clock] he saw something at the base of a tree.
‘Initially he thought it was an animal but as he went to the base of the tree he saw a towel covered in blood.
‘He eventually saw the face and knew it was a baby. He felt baby Maliki’s cheek was cold, and there was no reaction.’
Police forensics at the scene back in March 2020 where the baby was found dead in woodlands in Hythe, near Southampton, Hampshire
The court heard Mr Dorsett returned home and called police, who he led through the forest to the baby, who still had his umbilical cord attached.
‘Having seen the white towel, (the police officer) also saw two small feet visible and not covered,’ Ms Maylin said.
‘There was blood on Maliki’s feet. The baby appeared to be wrapped carefully and was leaning on the base of the tree.
‘[The baby had] no visible injuries and still had the umbilical cord attached.’
The court heard during her pregnancy several services including midwives and Keresi’s GP had tried to contact her.
‘All of these agencies were trying to contact Mrs Keresi,’ said Ms Maylin.
‘She had a consultation with a midwife to discuss the possibility of termination in November 2019.
‘She had thought she was about 12 weeks pregnant, but results indicated she was 26 weeks and five days pregnant – over the gestation date limit for a lawful termination.
‘[Mrs Keresi] became shocked and visibly uncomfortable, and tried to leave.’
During an interview with a social worker following her arrest, Keresi said she had been under ‘increased pressure’ after her husband left the army.
Keresi her husband, Dharma Keresi, who left the Army in 2017, used to beat her and hit her with his army belt. She had raised concerns about her immigration status.
Ms Maylin continued: ‘During the course of the interview [on March 13], Selipa Keresi was distressed and crying.
The court heard Maliki’s body was found by Michael Dorsett, who called police, before leading officers through the forest to Maliki, who was wrapped ‘carefully’ in the towel with his umbilical cord still attached
‘She said she was in a bad situation and was trying to juggle everything.
‘She had tried to keep things good for her family, but felt under pressure after her husband had left the army.
‘She had also filled out an incorrect immigration form, and in order for her to remain [in the UK] she had to pay a fine she couldn’t afford.
‘She said she tried to be a good mother but snapped. When asked what she meant she said, ‘God understands’.’
‘Police found, in the early hours of March 4 – 30 to 32 hours before Maliki was found – Selipa Keresi was seen leaving her accommodation.
‘A camera on a nearby farm… what we see is a figure with a white item over their shoulder at 04:51am.
‘About 20 minutes later a figure walks past the farm gate with no white item over their shoulder.’
A post-mortem showed the baby 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.
Judge Mr Justice Garnham adjourned the case for sentencing on Thursday and remanded Keresi into custody.
He told her: ‘There is only one sentence available to the court which is life imprisonment.’