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Mother hid stillborn babies in wardrobe for 20 years

A woman today admitted concealing the births of four stillborn babies.

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 for 20 years.

Their remains were discovered last July by Quirk's daughter, Joanne Lee, who contacted police.

Today, Quirk, of St Helens, Merseyside, admitted four counts of concealing births when she appeared at Liverpool Crown Court.

She will be sentenced on October 11 after pre-sentencing reports have been prepared.

The 55-year-old said she gave birth to the babies between 1985 and 1995 when her marriage ended and she hit the bottle.

But she could not be more specific.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Bickley, or Merseyside Police, said Quirk had "a chaotic lifestyle" after the failure of her marriage in the late 1980s and "had a number of sexual encounters".

There was no explanation today about why she carried the remains about - moving home several times in the intervening years.

Two of the babies in the bin were twins - and all four were girls, though Quirk said she only remembered three of them.

At the end of July last year, Quirk's daughter discovered the remains of three babies at her mother's house in Harlow Close.

Miss Lee already knew about a baby buried in St Helens Cemetery in the late 1990s and asked a friend to contact police.

Officers searched the property and arrested Miss Lee and her mother, an ex-care home assistant, and launched a homicide inquiry.

Miss Lee was eventually released without charge.

The defendant told detectives she gave birth to the babies at her old home in Brandreth Close, St Helens, and they were all stillborn.

Forensic tests could not prove otherwise and the twice married alcoholic could only be charged with concealing birth.

Police said there was insufficient evidence to charge anybody else with the remains' disposal.

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