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Woman in the UK convicted of killing newborn baby by filling her mouth with toilet paper

Guilty: Claudia Martins
Guilty: Claudia Martins

A mother has been convicted of killing her newborn baby girl by filling her mouth with toilet paper and hiding her body in a suitcase.

Claudia Martins, 33, was acquitted by a jury of a single charge of murder but convicted of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

During her trial at Bristol Crown Court the jury was told she gave birth alone at her sister's flat in Knowle, Bristol on September 12 last year, having kept the pregnancy secret from family and friends.

Paramedics were called after friends found Martins, a Portuguese national, sitting in the bath with "a lot of blood" and she was taken to hospital.

Two days later, her sister Vilma raised the alarm after noticing a smell coming from a suitcase in the defendant's bedroom.

Police were called to the flat and discovered the body of a newborn baby inside Martins' small, black suitcase, on September 15.

Martins, described as having an extremely low IQ, was arrested and admitted she had given birth but said the baby was stillborn.

A post-mortem examination found a wad of toilet paper inside the baby's mouth, which experts claim was "deliberately inserted".

The jury heard Martins is originally from Mozambique in Africa but moved to Portugal before settling in Bristol in 2011, living in a two-bedroom flat with her sister Vilma Marshall, Ms Marshall's partner, and five children.

Giving evidence, Martins told the court: "I did not kill my daughter. I did not put tissue paper in her throat. I didn't kill her. No, I did not kill my daughter."

Mr Justice Teare remanded Martins, of Marshall Walk, Knowle, Bristol into custody to await the preparation of reports. She will be sentenced later.

Detective Inspector Neil Meade, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "The death of a baby is always a tragedy but the unique circumstances make this a particularly emotive case for everyone involved.

"We carried out a sensitive and comprehensive investigation into the circumstances of the baby girl's death and obtained statements from medical experts specialising in this field.

"We've also worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service from the outset. The jury has listened to the evidence and convicted Claudia Martins of manslaughter.

"Our thoughts are very much with the victim's wider family as they are struggling to comprehend how and why this tragedy happened."