Attack on pregnant woman causes her to lose baby – why no...

Attack on pregnant woman causes her to lose baby – why no murder charge?

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From BBC News: National news and pictures

On Monday 15 June 2015, Malorie Bantala, 21, who was 32 weeks pregnant, was attacked by two men in Peckham, south London.

It has been reported that she was pushed to the ground by two men in motorcycle helmets who kicked and stamped on her stomach. As a result of the attack, she lost her baby.

She is currently in intensive care.

On 18 June 2015, Kevin Wilson of Bermondsey, south London, appeared at the magistrates’ court charged with child destruction and causing GBH with intent (section 18).

Why isn’t he charged with murder?

Quite simply, the law does not recognise an unborn child as a person. This is so, whether or not the foetus is at a stage where it could survive unaided outside of the womb. As such, there is a separate offence relating to acts resulting in the death of an unborn child.

Child destruction

The Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 s.1 is as follows:

(1) Subject as hereinafter in this subsection provided, any person who, with intent to destroy the life of a child capable of being born alive, by any wilful act causes a child to die before it has an existence independent of its mother, shall be guilty of felony, to wit, of child destruction, and shall be liable on conviction thereof on indictment to penal servitude for life:

Provided that no person shall be found guilty of an offence under this section unless it is proved that the act which caused the death of the child was not done in good faith for the purpose only of preserving the life of the mother.

(2) For the purposes of this Act, evidence that a woman had at any material time been pregnant for a period of twenty-eight weeks or more shall be primâ facie proof that she was at that time pregnant of a child capable of being born alive.

So it has to demonstrated, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant acted wilfully and with the intention of destroying the life of the unborn child; it is not sufficient that the intention was to harm the mother or harm the child.

Remand

Wilson was remanded until 2 July 2015 when he will appear at Woolwich Crown Court. It is expected he will deny the offences. We’ll return to the case then.

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