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Hythe mum Silipa Keresi jailed for life for murdering her newborn

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A HYTHE mother who left her newborn son to die in woodland in the New Forest was today (Thursday) jailed for life, with a minimum of nine years.

Silipa Keresi, of Pylewell Road, was convicted of murder by a jury on Tuesday after a trial at Winchester Crown Court. She had denied the charge, as well as an alternative one of infanticide.

As reported in the A&T, Silipa’s newborn baby Maliki was discovered dead wrapped in a white blanket in woodland close to Shore Road, Hythe.

Silipa Keresi was sentenced to life in prison
Silipa Keresi was sentenced to life in prison

CCTV captured the heavily pregnant Silipa, carrying the blanket from the Fountin Court Hotel – where she was living at the time – towards woodland, just before 5am on March 5th 2020.

The judge, Mr Justice Garnham QC, sentenced her to life in prison, with a minimum term of nine years before she can be considered for parole.

In sentencing, he said: "The abandonment of Maliki was an act of desperation by a vulnerable woman, facing challenging circumstances.

"The emotional effect of your giving birth outdoors and unaccompanied was profound."

Speaking after the sentencing, senior investigating officer, acting DCI Adam Edwards, said: "The death of baby Maliki Keresi is truly heartbreaking and no sentence will ever be able to bring him back or give him the life he deserved.

"I want to take this chance to speak to any new or expecting mothers who find themselves in a situation or circumstance which may lead them considering such extreme actions as those we have seen in this case; please know, there is always help out there for you.

"There are many organisations, charities and professionals who can provide you with support and advice.

"Today's sentencing is the culmination of many hours of hard work by our investigation team, and the work of experts who provided important evidence."

During the trial, the prosecution said that in the months beforehand, Silipa had inquired about terminating Maliki with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).

But she got upset after being told she was 26 weeks' pregnant – beyond the legal limit of 24 – and could not have a termination.

Afterwards, the prosecution added, she seemed reluctant to engage with agencies, failing to answer calls and having to be tracked down to the Fountain Court Hotel in Hythe where she was living.

In her defence, Silipa said her "mind was everywhere" around the time of the birth and her barrister, James Newton-Price, told the jury she was suffering "acute stress" around the time she was pregnant.

The woodland off Shore Road in Hythe where the body of Maliki Keresi was found
The woodland off Shore Road in Hythe where the body of Maliki Keresi was found

The court also heard allegations from Silipa that she was subjected to domestic violence by her husband, Dharma, whom she said she first met in 2002 and married in 2005, having known him for "two to three weeks".

Before giving birth to the couple's fourth child in 2012, she had inquired about a termination but decided against it, and a year later Dharma was arrested and charged with assaulting her after neighbours saw him hitting her with an "army belt".

But she later dropped her support for the prosecution as it put his army role in jeopardy and she said she had been "worried as to what would happen" without him, since she was “not sure I could survive” without him in the UK.

The family survived on little money and moved around a lot until Dharma left the army in September 2017 – which meant neither Silipa nor Dharma then had the automatic right to live or work in the UK, the court heard, and Dharma subsequently applied for himself to stay.

By the time she became pregnant with Maliki, they were living in a two-bed room at the Hythe hotel, for which the family paid £300 a week, using food banks and both working at the New Forest Laundrette – despite Silipa not having the right to be in or work in the UK.

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