A WOMAN who concealed the births of four stillborn babies and kept three of them in her wardrobe for two decades escaped jail yesterday.
Bernadette Quirk illegally buried one baby in a cemetery and wrapped the other three in newspaper and rags and kept them in a small plastic bin with an air freshener, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
The 55-year-old said she gave birth to the babies between 1985 and 1995. Their remains were discovered last July by Quirk's daughter who contacted police.
Quirk, of St Helens, Merseyside, admitted four counts of concealing births and was given a two year community order, subject to supervision, and ordered to take part in a women's intervention project.
Anya Horwood, prosecuting, said Quirk, a mother of three, fell into a "chaotic and dysfunctional" lifestyle following the break-up of her second marriage.
She said: "The defendant's heavy drinking significantly impaired her ability to look after her children, her family and herself."
All of the babies were girls, the court was told.
In mitigation, Quirk's barrister, Ian Morris, said she embarked on a series of inappropriate relationships following the breakdown of her marriage.
He said she hid the pregnancies because she was ashamed of what she had done and did not believe in abortion.
"Half her life has been characterised by unhappiness, loss and suffering," he added.
Three fathers of the dead infants were traced by police and gave victim impact statements which were handed to Judge Henry Globe, QC.
They were not read out in court.
The judge told Quirk: "You have had to suffer four stillborn children and had to live with the consequences of their deaths and the concealment which must have caused you much anxiety and distress."