Newborn baby found dead in canal ‘may have been in water for up to four days’

·4-min read

A newborn baby found dead in a canal may have been in the water for up to four days, police have said.

West Midlands Police said the baby boy was discovered by a passer-by in a waterway in Rough Wood Country Park, off Hunts Lane in Willenhall, near Walsall, on Thursday afternoon.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Munro, of the force’s homicide unit, said he was “reluctant to draw any parallels” with recent cases of abandoned infants in the region.

The baby boy’s death followed separate discoveries of an abandoned newborn in a Birmingham park and a youngster who was found dead in a Morrisons car park in Bilston last month.

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The Birmingham infant, who was named George by those looking after him in hospital, was discovered clothed and wrapped in a blanket by a dog walker at The Mounds on April 22 and is now “doing well” with foster carers.

The force has released an e-fit of the mother in that case based on a witness description and say they are “desperately concerned” about her.

A 21-year-old woman and a 36-year-old man arrested in connection with the death of the Bilston baby have since been bailed following the discovery on April 11.

On Friday, police urged the mother of the baby found in the canal to come forward as she will “obviously be needing medical assistance”.

The force also said it is “difficult to say” what, if any, injuries the infant had suffered due to the length of time he had been in the canal.

Providing an update on the investigation, DCI Munro told the PA news agency: “An investigation has since commenced and officers are now engaged in inquiries in the area.

“However, what I would do is directly appeal to the mum of the little baby boy.

“We believe he could have been in the canal for up to four days.

“Mum will obviously be needing medical assistance and that remains our primary concern at this time, to provide her with the support that she needs.

“I would urge her to come forward.”

DCI Munro continued: “I would also urge anybody who knows of mum, whether that be family, or people who know somebody who was pregnant recently who is no longer pregnant, that they come forward with information.

“That can be treated in the strictest of confidence in order for us to speak with mum and get her the support that she needs.”

DCI Munro said he was also appealing to people who frequently walked through the area to come forward with information.

He said: “I would urge them to look back over the past four days – have they seen anything suspicious in the area?

Baby boy found in Kings Norton
The death follows the discovery of abandoned infant ‘George’ in a Birmingham Park (West Midlands Police/PA)

“Have they encountered anybody that now, in hindsight, may well have been suspicious?

“I would ask them to come forward and provide us with that information to help us understand what may have taken place and ultimately understand how that little baby boy has tragically met his death.”

Asked if the infant had suffered any external injuries, DCI Munro told PA: “Due to the amount of time the little baby boy may well have been in the canal, that is difficult to say at this time.

“We will continue to work with experts over the next few days in order for us to try and establish and understand how the little boy may well have died.”

Commenting on whether there are any criminal suspects police are looking for, DCI Munro said: “The primary focus for me at this moment in time is to identify mum and get her the support she needs.”

A post-mortem examination is due to take place next week.

Questioned on whether he was concerned about the number of similar cases of abandoned babies in the West Midlands over the past few weeks, DCI Munro said: “I’d be reluctant to draw any parallels to this investigation from other incidents we may well have seen.

“The incident we are investigating here is an isolated incident and we will continue to work with partner agencies and people within the area… to ensure that we are still providing the adequate support and providing the right information to mums of newborns.”