3000 expectant mums traced in baby death probe

The police investigation at Seafield Crematorium. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The police investigation at Seafield Crematorium. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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DETECTIVES have traced 3000 expectant mothers in a bid to identify the tragic baby whose remains were found next to Seafield Crematorium – but all of them have been eliminated from the massive inquiry.

Officers used health records to find any woman from the Lothians who gave birth, or was due to give birth, in the four months leading up to the grim discovery on July 28.

The huge effort included officers locating mothers who elected for home births as their babies were not entered on hospital lists.

And officers doggedly tracked down nearly all of the 80 people who had bought a particular baby blanket from Primark – the same one found with the child – although this also drew a blank.

The remains were found two months ago, and Detective Chief Inspector David McLaren, who is leading the hunt, today admitted that “good, conventional lines of inquiry” had been largely exhausted.

The DCI said that his team remained hopeful that forensic work could provide a vital breakthrough, but added that someone coming forward who knows the mother offered the most likely prospect of identifying the infant.

The baby’s body was found in undergrowth, next to Restalrig Path, by a dog walker.

DCI McLaren said: “There are around 12,000 births in Edinburgh each year, and we had to trace every mother due to give birth in the three to four-month window before the body was discovered.

“That included expectant mothers who had engaged with health services but no birth was recorded, perhaps because they sadly suffered a miscarriage. Some mothers chose to have home births and they were traced too.

“We either spoke to a doctor or other health worker who has seen the child after July 28 to confirm that they were alive and well, or we went to speak to the mothers ourselves. It was a massive undertaking, but unfortunately we bottomed out that line of inquiry.

“We’re pretty confident that the boy’s mother never engaged with health services throughout her pregnancy. She may have been someone who was only in the city for a short time, or was just passing through.”

Officers traced buyers of a Primark “early days” blanket featuring circus and elephant images through debit or credit card receipts, with only a small number of cash purchasers going untraced.

The blanket was the subject of an appeal in the days after the remains were found, but DCI McLaren said that the overall public response to the case had been “disappointing” and failed to yield any important clues.

Despite the setbacks, the 12-strong team working on the investigation remain determined to bring it to a conclusion.

DCI McLaren said: “I still believe that someone has the information to solve this puzzle and identify the baby. I would urge them, and the mother, to come forward.”

alan.mcewen@edinburghnews.com

Tragic timeline

July 28: The remains of a baby are found next to Seafield Crematorium by a dog walker.

August 1: Police issue appeal to trace buyer of a baby blanket from Primark which was found with the child.

August 29: It is revealed that DNA tests of the remains had failed to identify the mother from the national criminal database.