Woman ‘murdered baby after snapping over stress of applying to stay in UK’

The wife of a former Commonwealth army soldier murdered her newborn son after “snapping” over the stresses of applying for permission to stay in the UK while struggling to support her family, a court has heard.

Silipa Keresi, 38, is accused of the murder of Maliki Keresi, who was found dead wrapped in a towel in woodland near to her home in Hythe, New Forest, Hampshire, on March 5, 2020.

Keresi, from Fiji, faces an alternative charge at Winchester Crown Court (pictured) of infanticide, which says she was responsible for the death while her “mind was disturbed” following the birth.

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, said that police launched an appeal to find the child’s mother, and a local midwife raised her concern that it was Keresi, whose husband Dharma Keresi served as a Commonwealth soldier in the British Army.

Ms Maylin said that after Keresi, who has two children living in the UK and two in Fiji, was located, the defendant said that she was “in a bad situation and stressed with life”.

She said: “She explained she tried to keep things good for her family but felt under a lot of pressure since her husband left the Army.

“There was also an uncertain immigration status and she didn’t know what to do.

“In order to get leave-to-remain status she would have to pay a fee which she couldn’t afford.”

She continued: “She had been to the council but they wouldn’t assist her without her immigration papers.

“She had tried to be a good mother for years but she snapped.”

Ms Maylin said when asked to explain, Keresi said: “God understands.”

The prosecutor added that Keresi, who had moved frequently with her family and ended up living in a small hotel room, had not told her husband she was pregnant.

Ms Maylin added: “She also explained it had been too hard, she couldn’t cope any more and they had been struggling with money.”

Ms Maylin said that a post mortem examination found that the baby had breathed and excreted following birth and would have suffered from hypothermia.

The post-mortem examination found that Maliki had no abnormalities or injuries and the cause of death was given as “omission of care”.

Ms Maylin said that Keresi remembered giving birth but could not recall where and the defendant had said she was in “another world”.

The prosecutor said Maliki was not born where his body was found, but it was not known where he was born.

Ms Maylin said that in November 2019, Keresi had visited the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) seeking a termination.

She had left the appointment distressed after a scan showed she was 26 weeks and five days pregnant – past the legal limit of 24 weeks for an abortion.

Ms Maylin said: “Silipa Keresi appeared very shocked, she became visibly uncomfortable, she got off the bed abruptly and tried to leave.”

She said that several attempts were made by the midwife service to contact the defendant during her pregnancy, including a visit to her home, but she failed to attend appointments.

Keresi, who worked at a launderette with her husband, denies both charges and the trial continues.

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