Details of baby abducted plot emerge in court

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A TEENAGER who was involved in a plot to kidnap a baby in Derby had faked a pregnancy scan and lied about hospital appointments. Holly Kelland sent Facebook messages to accomplice Codie Farrar referring to ‘baby chasing’.

Sentencing the pair to 12-month detention and training orders, District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said the only reason the plot was not carried through was because of the ‘alertness’ of the Derby mum.

Kelland, 18, of Wolverhampton, and Farrar, 17, of Evesham,had previously admitted trying to kidnap three babies, including one from Normanton.
Derby Youth Court heard that Kelland had set up a fake Facebook account. The mothers of the babies received messages from that account. They were offered free baby clothes and were asked for their addresses so the items could be posted to them.
It was told how the mother from Derby was visited by Farrar, posing as a social worker. She told the mother of the two-week old baby: “I’m a social worker and you signed something for your baby to have a medical assessment.” The mother said she could not remember doing that.

The court heard Farrar then asked how old the baby was and said the very young child was “beautiful”. She then asked to hold the baby and the mother’s suspicions were raised when she did not support her son’s head properly, the court was told.

Almas Ben-Aribia, prosecuting, said: “She asked again how old the baby was and the mother was and then asked did she love him?”

The court heard how Farrar then said she would need to take the baby away for 30 minutes for the medical assessment but the mother refused. The teenager became nervous and left the house. The mother then contacted the police.

The first target had been a baby in Huddersfield. However, this never moved beyond contact on Facebook. Next was the Derby case and then a baby in Wolverhampton. In this latter case, the mother became suspicious after being contacted by the Derby victim’s grandmother.

The court heard how, when police arrested the two girls, they discovered Facebook messages sent from Kelland to Farrar, which said: “Don’t feel like baby chasing today?”, “Did you bin the sim?” and “Just make sure you don’t give out any information.”

Kelland told police she was pregnant – a lie that she had also told her mum. But officers soon discovered she had faked a baby scan image and lied about hospital appointments. Kelland’s lawyer said that the teenager claimed she had been pregnant but had lost her baby after being assaulted.

Elaine Stapleton, for Kelland, said her client had been suffering from a mental health condition and had been hearing voices that had been telling her to do things.

The court heard that Farrar was ‘immature for her age’ and had a ‘difficult background’.

Louise Sweet QC, for Farrar, said: “I would consider Codie to be a very vulnerable young person, who is easily led and often doesn’t realise she is being used or manipulated.”

District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “By its very nature, this is a case of extreme seriousness. A plan was hatched to kidnap a baby this was not followed through, fortunately only the alertness of the mother prevented an actual kidnap taking place.

“This was not a momentary decision, it was a prolonged period of action which involved the setting up of a fake Facebook account to obtain details of newborn babies’ and families’ details. It involved the travelling to areas well away from their home and masquerading as a social worker.

“The baby was held by Codie who was pretending to be a healthcare professional. The distress caused to the baby and mother should not be underestimated.” He said it was an accepted fact that Holly recruited Codie but then on the other side “Codie is the murder mystery actress who impersonates a social worker”.

Judge Taaffe said he would be “failing” in his public duty if a custodial sentence was not imposed. He said: “This is a very serious set of circumstances that involved planning and sophistication to take newborn babies from home addresses.

“That can only, in my view, be dealt with by the imposition of immediate custodial sentence.”

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