Mum buried stillborn baby under Christmas tree in grounds of Barkisland country home

Angela Owen
Angela Owen

A mum who buried her stillborn child under a Christmas tree walked free after sentencing at Bradford Crown Court.

The court was told Angela Owen, 47, was renting with her partner Paul Beaumont and young daughter, at the former servants quarters at Howroyd Hall, Barkisland when the baby boy was born in 2001.

Owen was sentenced to a 12 month community order for consealing the birth of a child, preventing the lawful and decent buriel of a dead body and six offences of fraud. She was told she escaped jail due to time spent on remand and curfew. She was also ordered to pay £400 towards costs.

Christopher Tehrani, proscuting, said when Owen discovered she was pregnant she arranged a termination but failed to attend the hospital appointment.

In May 2002, she, her partner, and her daughter moved to Rochdale.

In 2006 workmen at Howroyd Hall found the stillborn child in a black bin liner while doing excavation works.

Paul Beaumont was traced and told police he had been in a relationship with Owen from the late 90s to 2004 and it was quite stormy.

Owen was arrested in 2012 after an appeal on TV’s Crimewatch programme.

When interviewed by police she said she failed to follow through with the termination due to Paul Beaumonts controlling ways.

She told officers after Christmas Day 2001 she was assaulted and kicked in the stomach.

The following day she felt pains in her stomach.

“She made her way from the hallway to the lavortory and she said ‘the baby fell out with a whoosh’,” said Mr Tehrani. “It was stillborn. She put the baby in a bag and buried it under a Christmas tree in the garden.”

Owen did not disclose the birth to anyone and told police she did not know she had to register the death.

The fraud offences involved Owen using false identity to access banking credit services, a car, run a pub, a driving licence, a passport and hotel accommodation.

Kirstie Watson, mitigating, said Owen was of good character until meeting Beaumont and she suffered domestic violence and was influenced by him.

Miss Watson said Owen was badly assaulted before the birth in Barkisland.

“She was not thinking straight. The body was buried in the garden because she wanted it to be near her.”

Judge Robert Bartfield told Owen circumstances surrounding the still birth can never be fully established and that the fraud offences were also serious.

After the hearing Angela Owen said: “I would like to thank my family and friends for support and my solicitor.

“It has been a nightmare and I’m having counselling to try and get over it.”

Detective Inspector Steve Snow of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, (HMET) said after the hearing: “This is the culmination of a painstaking and detailed investigation over seven years for a woman who used at least 27 different names and aliases to attempt to evade justice.

“The investigation into Owen started in July 2006 after the discovery of the decomposed remains of a new born baby in Barkisland, Halifax.

“There then followed numerous appeals in the media to try and trace her.

“But she had moved to Glastonbury, Somerset and reinvented herself as the archetypal ‘respectable woman next door’ living a ‘normal’ life.

“Despite regular appeals, officers were unable to trace Owen before a national appeal on Crimewatch. That programme clearly struck a chord and she was arrested within two hours of the show being broadcast.

“From the outset Owen admitted concealing the birth of her child and failing to notify the Coroner of the birth. These are serious offences and also meant she was unable to seek medical attention at what must have been a very difficult time.

“And in addition to this she admitted six counts of fraud totalling £26,000.”