Baby's body found 'near' mother's
A mother was found dead near the lifeless body of her baby daughter after going missing from a maternity hospital, an inquest has heard.
Charlotte Bevan, 30, vanished from St Michael's Hospital in Bristol with four-day-old Zaani Tiana Bevan Malbrouck at around 9pm on December 2.
CCTV footage showed the new mother leaving the hospital without a coat, wearing hospital slippers, carrying her daughter in a blanket.
Search teams located the bodies of Ms Bevan and Zaani, both from Clifton, Bristol, on the Avon Gorge on December 3 and 4 respectively.
Avon Coroner's Court heard that post-mortem examinations had been carried out on the mother and daughter by a Home Office registered pathologist but further tests were required.
No members of Ms Bevan's family were present at the 10 minute hearing, which was opened by Assistant Coroner Dr Peter Harrowing.
He told the court there would be "separate and distinct" inquests into the deaths of the mother and daughter.
"But given the circumstances of which their deaths occurred it was appropriate to deal with matters at the same time," he added.
Coroner's officer Alex Basson said Ms Bevan was pronounced dead by a paramedic at 9.17pm on December 3 in the Avon Gorge.
"She was identified by her uncle to a detective constable," Mr Basson told the hearing at Flax Bourton, near Bristol.
"The circumstances surrounding her death were that the deceased had recently given birth to a baby daughter and was seen on CCTV to leave St Michael's Hospital in Bristol with child on December 2.
"Her lifeless body and that of her child, also lifeless, was later found following a police search in a gully in Avon Gorge having apparently fallen."
Mr Basson said Zaani was born on November 28 and she was confirmed dead by a paramedic at the Avon Gorge at 3.02pm the following day, aged six days.
"She was identified by hospital wristbands to a detective constable at the Avon Gorge," he said.
"The circumstances surrounding her death were that the deceased was found lifeless in the Avon Gorge.
"The body of her mother Charlotte Bevan was recovered nearby."
The court heard that post-mortem examinations had been carried out by Dr Russell Delaney who has provided provisional reports to the coroner.
"We await the final report subject to histology and toxicology examination," Mr Basson added.
Mr Basson also confirmed that he was not in possession of any medical cause of death relating to Zaani.
"I have spoken at length to the investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Russell Jones, and clearly the investigation into the deaths of Charlotte and Zaani is well under way," he said.
"They anticipate having their investigative report available in about eight weeks' time."
The court heard that the reports from Ms Bevan's GP and both the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, who had dealings with her, and the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which runs St Michael's Hospital, had been requested.
Dr Harrowing said the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) had recently updated its guidelines for health professionals working with pregnant women who were at risk of mental health problems.
"I think it is important that we ensure that both the mental health partnership and the University Hospitals Bristol address those guidelines in the reports they prepare," he said.
"They should be able to provide information and evidence of how those guidelines were applied in respect of Charlotte Bevan."
The coroner said that for the resumed hearing he would be making Ms Bevan's partner, Pascal Malbrouck, her mother Rachel Fortune, and the two health trusts "interested parties".
A provisional date for the full hearing was fixed for April 16 and could run into a second day, the court heard.
Adjourning the hearing, Dr Harrowing added: "The family are not in attendance at this opening today but they are fully aware of today's hearing and understandably chose not to attend."
Paying tribute after the deaths, Ms Bevan's mother said: "My beautiful daughter and granddaughter are now at peace."
A funeral for Ms Bevan and baby Zaani will be held at Christ Church in Clifton at 1pm on Friday.
Her family has asked those attending to wear bright clothing and not to bring any cut flowers.
A private cremation will take place for family only following the funeral.