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Vicar 'tried to save new-born's life' after daughter gave birth

By Eleanor Barlow

A former vicar has told an inquest how he tried to revive his daughter's baby after she gave birth in a bathroom.

James Percival (66) said he had given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to newborn Jonathan Percival after his daughter Ruth gave birth in the downstairs toilet of the vicarage in Freckleton, Lancashire, in November 2014.

But Miss Percival (30) said she had not seen him make any attempts to revive the baby.

The inquest into Jonathan's death was halted last October when a coroner referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions after a medic stated the newborn could have survived if resuscitation attempts had been made.

The hearing at Blackpool Town Hall yesterday was told Miss Percival, who has some special educational needs, visited her GP surgery in August 2014 to arrange for the pregnancy to be aborted, but was too far gone.

The inquest heard she complained of back pain the evening before she gave birth.

Mr Percival, the then-vicar of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Freckleton, said that after Ruth returned home from work on November 25 she went to the toilet.

He said at about 3.30pm he saw her come out of the bathroom carrying a towel covered with what he believed to be excrement and went outside with her to put the towel in a bin.

He said: "I was about to put the towel into a black bin liner when Jonathan's leg came in sight. I said to Ruth 'this is a baby'. I said 'you can't put a baby in the bin'." He said he placed the baby on the towel on the floor and attempted to resuscitate him but that: "The baby was quite clearly dead."

Mr Percival said he took the baby inside the house and told Ruth to go upstairs and get ready for her doctor's appointment while he cleaned the bathroom. He took her to the GP's surgery, leaving the baby on the sofa.

The court heard medical evidence showed the baby was alive at the time he was born.

Miss Percival told the inquest she told the court she thought she saw the baby trying to take a breath after he was born.

Both said the umbilical cord was wrapped round his neck.

Mr Percival's wife Susan told the hearing she did not know her daughter was pregnant and was at work when the baby was born.

The baby's father, Brian O'Hanlon, did not attend.

The hearing continues today.

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