Police hold mum whose baby was found at Ripponden stately home

Scene of the baby's discovery at The Howroyd, Barkisland, near Halifax.
Scene of the baby's discovery at The Howroyd, Barkisland, near Halifax.
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A MOTHER whose baby boy was found dead in a bin bag in the garden of a Yorkshire stately home has been arrested.

Angela Owen, 46, was arrested in the early hours of yesterday morning following a fresh appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme on Thursday night. She has been remanded in custody. The Yorkshire Post understands that she has been arrested in connection with the death of a baby.

Initially, an inconclusive post mortem led to the police treating the death as non-suspicious. But following subsequent investigations and a recent review it is now being treated as suspicious. The baby died after a full-term pregnancy and was buried was very close to the house, once owned by an actor, and within view of its windows.

Police had been searching for her since the tiny corpse of the baby was found wrapped in a bin liner by builders in July 2006 in the garden of The Howroyd stately home in Krumlin Road, Barkisland, near Ripponden, Calderdale, in July 2006.

Miss Owen was arrested in Avon and Somerset over the baby death and on suspicion of fraud - understood to total £250,000 and she is understood she is being brought back to West Yorkshire.

The alleged fraud is thought to involve borrowing money and receiving credit to buy cars. The Crimewatch appeal came just weeks after an inquest was finally opened into the child’s death by coroner Tim Ratcliffe.

Detective Inspector Stephen Snow of West Yorkshire Police homicide unit said at the hearing their search for her was complicated by the number of aliases used - she was known by up to 30 names.

He told the inquest she had been living in the servants’ quarters at the hall with a man known as Mr Beaumont. He said: “He was spoken to and it was suspected that she was pregnant but there was never any evidence that she had actually given birth.”

Tne inquest heard that DNA evidence had confirmed that Mr Beaumont was the father of the baby. Two years ago the Yorkshire Post revealed the body could have been lying at The Howroyd for up to 12 months. A post mortem examination showed he was full-term.

Miss Owen rented the old servants’ quarters at Howroyd from January 2002 until May 2003, and had last been seen in June 2004 in Weston-super- Mare.

She is also understood to have relations in Huddersfield, where she is believed to have worked for a time. The grim discovery of the infant’s body came to light by accident in 2006 when Terry Norcliffe, a self-employed builder and landscaper from Barkisland found the remnants of the baby during renovations of the house. At the time he said: “I thought: ‘What a way to treat a baby.’ It disgusted me that someone could treat a child like that.

“It is just a horrible way for a child to end up - I don’t care what the circumstances are.” The Howroyd was built in 1642 by landowner William Horton for his bride, Elizabeth Gledhill. The house dates back more than 350 years to the 17th century, but there are records of a house there stretching back 800 years. Previous guests are said to have included the famous seafarer, Lord Nelson, the political agitator, Guy Fawkes and the well-known composer Ivor Novello. Among more recent owners was Emmerdale actor Richard Thorp - at one time the longest running character in the soap. He plays Alan Turner.

When West Yorkshire Police appealed for help in July 2010 Detective Sergeant Bill Hargreaves, (since retired), said: “We believe she is using something in the region of 30 names. Some of them are real people’s names.”

The aliases ranged from Carla Geissler, Helen Gee and Ann Hall. She was wanted in connection with a fraud in Leeds involving borrowing money and receiving credit to buy cars.

Her partner was convicted several years ago for his role in the deception.

Police initially said there were no suspicious circumstances, but since a review of the case earlier this year officers have treated the death as suspicious.

robert.sutcliffe@ypn.co.uk