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BABY KILLER MUM; She admits killing two of her kids at birth and hiding their bodies in binbags.

Byline: STEVE SMITH

A MUM yesterday admitted killing her two newborn babies and keeping their rotting bodies for up to five years.

Bar manageress Susan MacLeod's grim secret was only discovered when her flatmate investigated the terrible smell from her room.

A search of the room revealed three bodies of newborn babies, believed to have been born between August 1996 and November 2000, stuffed in binbags.

MacLeod, 26, from Lewis, yesterday admitted the culpable homicide of her firstborn baby, a girl, and her second, a boy, at the High Court in Glasgow.

Her not guilty plea to murdering the third baby, a girl, was accepted by the Crown.

The court heard MacLeod told friends she had cancer to conceal her pregnancies.

She told police how she gave birth to her babies alone in her second-floor flat in Summertown Road, Govan, Glasgow, then wrapped them in the bags.

She said the baby boy cried for a few seconds after he was born as she cradled him.

The court heard the horror story only unfolded after MacLeod's flatmate, Shona Campbell, whose father Angus owned the flat, was about to have a party.

Norman Ritchie, prosecuting, said MacLeod came to college in Glasgow from her home in Bragar, 20 miles from Stornoway, but dropped out and worked in bars.

At first, she worked as a barmaid in the Park Bar in Argyle Street, Glasgow, a favourite watering hole for people from the Western Isles.

Mr Ritchie said: "She rented a bedroom in a two-bedroomed flat and over the years different flatmates complained about the smell coming from her room.

"Some of them made cursory investigations, but nothing was found at first."

Finally, when Shona Campbell was preparing for a birthday party, she decided to investigate the smell, which she thought was caused by rotting food.

Mr Ritchie said: "She and her sister went into the bedroom and thought the two bags on the floor held rotting food. They placed them in a cardboard box for disposal.

"Then they burst open the taped wardrobe and found maggot shells round a bag which was stuck to the floor."

Shona's brother, Donald Campbell, cut open the bag and an infant's bones were found.

Mr Ritchie said: "Mr Campbell's wife, a student nurse, said they were not the remains of food."

He said Donald Campbell's wife then phoned her dad - who had fathered the second and third of the tragic babies - in the Western Isles.

Police later traced MacLeod to her boyfriend's house in the city but she had already been tipped off about the gruesome find by the babies' father.

Mr Ritchie said: "Mrs Campbell's father had already contacted her."

She later told police that when she became pregnant for the first time, the man she believed was the father did not want to know.

After concealing her condition for the duration of her pregnancy, she wakened up with a painful stomach, took a painkiller and gave birth to a baby girl.

Of the second birth, she told police: "It was a hard birth. I heard a crack and heard a cry. There was no sign of life. He cried for a couple of seconds.

"I held him with me and then I fell asleep. When I wakened, he was dead."

Mr Ritchie said the Crown could not prove if the third baby was stillborn and accepted MacLeod's plea of not guilty because of that.

He added: "The father of the second and third babies was the same man.

"He is from the Western Isles, but not from Lewis. He is from a different island."

MacLeod told some people she had cancer to explain her appearance and denied she was pregnant when asked by her mother.

Mr Ritchie said that MacLeod's boyfriend - who was not the father of any of the children - had not suspected she was pregnant.

When she was about to give birth to the third child in November 2000, she insisted he drive her home and leave her alone in the bedroom.

MacLeod was originally charged with murdering all three babies over a four-year period.

But yesterday she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of the culpable homicide of two of the babies by failing to obtain antenatal care and failing to care properly for them at birth whereby they died.

MacLeod admitted killing the first child between August 1 l996 and January 31 l997, and the second infant between June 30 l998 and December l999.

Gordon Jackson, QC, defending, said MacLeod was guilty of killing her babies by "doing nothing".

He added that she had been the victim of serious child abuse which had led her to distance herself from reality.

Judge Lord Bracadale deferred sentence until next week for more medical reports on MacLeod.

Defence witness Dr Gillian Mezey, a psychiatrist in London, said outside court that there was an established syndrome for people who suffer from child sexual abuse.

As a result of this, they can learn to cut themselves off psychologically from real events and to dissociate themselves from reality. She said: "That learned behaviour can appear in later life where traumatic events threaten some people who then become capable of pretending they are not happening, often with serious results."

MacLeod flew down from Stornoway accompanied by her parents and other relatives for the court hearing yesterday.

After her arrest in April 2001, she was held in prison for five weeks before being granted bail.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 22, 2003
Words:906
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