A MUM has been jailed for a second time after she stabbed her newborn baby to death with a pair of scissors
Mental healthcare boss Rachel Tunstill, 28, stabbed Mia Kelly to death in the bathroom of her home in Burnley, Lancashire, and then placed her body in plastic bags before dumping it in the kitchen bin.
She was originally found guilty of murder and jailed for a minimum of 20 years following a trial at Preston Crown Court in June 2017.
But the conviction was quashed as Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Treacy ruled that the jury in the case should have been offered a verdict of infanticide to consider.
A jury at Liverpool Crown Court found Tunstill guilty on Tuesday of murder following a retrial, a Lancashire Police spokesman said.
On Wednesday she was sentenced to life imprisonment and told to serve a minimum of 17 years before she can be considered for release, said police.
The court heard Tunstill, a psychology graduate, had high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder.
She had claimed she was unaware her pregnancy was virtually full-term and thought she was having a miscarriage at the flat in Wellington Court she shared with her partner, forklift driver Ryan Kelly, 31.
But the court heard the baby was almost full-term and she was 37 to 38 weeks pregnant.
This was a truly horrifying and callous killing of a defenceless newborn baby by her mother.
Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Willis
The jury was told Tunstill had been charged with murder but jurors were able to consider alternatives of manslaughter, manslaughter with diminished responsibility or infanticide.
The defence said Tunstill’s balance of mind was disturbed in the period following the birth on the evening of January 14 2017 and that she suffered “an acute stress reaction”.
In the weeks leading up to the birth Tunstill, a deputy manager at a residential home for people with mental health issues, carried out internet searches for terms including “how to end a pregnancy late”.
She also searched for information on notorious killer Mick Philpott, who murdered six of his own children in a house fire, and the court heard she had said she was interested in how somebody described as a “psychopath” could have cried on television about the deaths before his guilt was revealed.
The court was told that since being in prison Tunstill had reported hearing voices and claimed they told her she was like serial killer Rose West.
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Speaking on Tuesday, Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Willis said: “This was a truly horrifying and callous killing of a defenceless newborn baby by her mother, her source of life and who should have been her source of love.
“What is worse is that a totally innocent man, still coming to terms with the realisation he had a daughter and that she had died, was questioned by police because Tunstill lied about the fact she had killed the baby, stating that it was stillborn.
“She has still never admitted why she killed Mia.”