A CAREWORKER has been jailed for 20 years after being found guilty of murdering her newborn baby daughter.

Rachel Tunstill, 26, delivered baby Mia Kelly alone in the bathroom of her flat in Wellington Court, Burnley as her partner Ryan Kelly played X-Box in the next room.

She used a pair of scissors to stab the tiny baby before wrapping her body in two plastic carrier bags and dumping the body in the kitchen bin.

During the trial Tunstill claimed she was suffering psychiatric conditions which diminished her responsibility for killing her own baby.


But the jury rejected her account and took less than four hours to find her guilty of murder.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Davis, said: “The victim was a baby who had barely taken its first breath.

“The victim was killed by her mother and her mother, having killed the baby, took limited but definite steps to conceal what she had done.

“Had there been no visit by the defendant to the hospital on the following day, or the day after, it is perfectly possible that the bin in which the body was kept would have been put into the communal waste and been disposed of with nobody being any the wiser.

“Rachel Tunstill gave wholly contradictory accounts as to whether or not she was pregnant and if she was, to what extent.

“Without her crime being discovered by the hospital, she would have claimed some late miscarriage and nobody would have been any the wiser.”

As the jury delivered its verdict yesterday, Tunstill fell to the floor sobbing loudly, as Mr Justice Davis said: “What you did was to take the life of a newborn baby.”

Flanked by medical support workers, Tunstill said, “I’m not going anywhere” as she was led from the dock to the cells.

The judge said: “In closing his case to the jury Mr Kealy, Tunstill’s defence lawyer, said the jury would want to know why this had happened, and so they would, and so would I.

“The answer is that there is no way of knowing why this happened, just that it did. It is a truly distressing, dreadful crime.”

A jury at Preston Crown Court heard shortly after giving birth to baby Mia on the toilet at the flat, Tunstill called for Mr Kelly to pass her a pair of scissors.

As he handed them through the bathroom door, Tunstill said: “Thanks babe,” before closing the door.

Mr Kelly, who had been in a relationship with Tunsill for nine years, did not suspect his partner was giving birth and thought she was going through the motions of a miscarriage she claimed she had suffered six weeks earlier.

Speaking after the case, Det Ch Insp Jill Johnston, said: “This was a truly horrific incident involving the callous and brutal murder of a defenceless new-born baby.

“I cannot begin to understand why Rachel Tunstill committed this horrendous act.

“The person who should not be forgotten in this is the victim.

“This poor child should have been able to look to Rachel Tunstill for the protection and love of a parent. Instead this defenceless baby found herself subjected to the dreadful injuries which sadly caused her death.

“My thoughts remain with the wider family of baby Mia who have been through so much over the last year.

“They have conducted themselves with tremendous dignity and I hope that this conviction and sentence can offer them some comfort as they try to move on with their lives.

“Finally I would like the jury for their careful consideration of this case and all of the police officers and staff involved in this very difficult and upsetting enquiry.

“They have conducted themselves with great professionalism.

“I would also like to thank again the community in Burnley for their co-operation and understanding throughout this time.”

The judge handed Tunstill a life sentence with a minimum term of 20 years.