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Charlotte police find body in gorge

Police investigating the disappearance of a new mother and her four-day-old baby from hospital have found a body in a gorge, they said tonight.

The family of Charlotte Bevan, 30, who vanished from Bristol Maternity Hospital last night with her daughter, Zaani Tiana, have been informed of the find in the nearby Avon Gorge, Avon and Somerset Police said.

Charlotte has not been seen since leaving the maternity unit, with CCTV footage showing her leaving coatless and carrying Zaani wrapped in just a blanket.

In a statement, Avon and Somerset Police said: "We can confirm that the body of a woman has been found in the Avon Gorge in Bristol this evening. Formal identification will not take place until tomorrow.

"The family of Charlotte Bevan, who was reported missing last night, have been informed of this development.

"The police helicopter remains in the area to assist the continuing searches by police officers on the ground."

Pascal Malbrouck, Charlotte's boyfriend and Zaani's father, had earlier issued a heartfelt plea for her to "please come back".

Speaking at a press conference he said: "Charlotte, please come back, you're welcome any time. The last two days as a family was amazing and I really want to do that for much longer. I'm waiting for you."

Her mother, Rachel Fortune, also appealed for her daughter to get in touch, telling her: "We all really enjoyed seeing you be such a good mother. Let's go forward with that. Please get in touch. We all love you. Just get in touch, please get in touch."

Police said they were "concerned" for the welfare of the mother and baby, who are both believed to be severely under-dressed for the cold weather.

Officers are "urgently" hunting for the pair, and appealed directly to Ms Bevan to get in touch and let them know she and her baby are safe and well.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Crisp said Charlotte was making "great progress" and due to be discharged from hospital in a day or two.

But she shocked staff by walking out last night and not telling anyone where she was going.

She left hospital without a coat or shoes, wearing just a pair of hospital slippers, a long black top and black trousers.

Friends have said Ms Bevan is part of a "happy couple" and her disappearance is totally "out of character".

Just hours before she went missing, Ms Bevan posted a self-help video on her Facebook page called Get Through Positive And Negative Thinking Rough Patches.

But earlier this month she had posted happy pictures of herself with her baby bump on the social networking site, where she also described herself as a "free spirit".

Describing herself, she wrote: "I am free open-minded individual I love music, art, dancing and making clothes.

"I'm a free spirit open minded and individual I appreciate people for who they are kind or nasty they all need love."

Isaac McCardle, a friend of the couple, told of the fraught hunt to find Ms Bevan and Zaani Tiana.

Writing on Avon and Somerset Police's Facebook page, he said: "This is out of character.

"I was out on the streets with a friend for over three hours and searched almost every road, park, alleyway etc in the area as well as high streets and found nothing.

"We talked to a police officer who was patrolling in a car and told us she'd not yet been found.

"I was in a warm coat and now I'm back home and chilled to the bone so it is worrying. I really hope they are both safe and are all reunited soon.

"I do feel out of respect people should stop jumping to conclusions. They are a happy couple."

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