Portsmouth baby found in a city centre road died due to ‘incredibly sad and tragic’ accident after her mother collapsed from shock labour, coroner says

THE death of a new-born baby whose body was discovered in a city centre road has been deemed accidental, with a coroner expressing heartfelt sympathy for the mother whose ‘shocking and disorientating’ labour ended in tragedy.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 2:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 6:23 pm

The body of baby Ivory-Rose Blagden was found by a member of the public in the middle of Old Commercial Road, in Buckland, Portsmouth, on January 25, 2020, almost a month after her death.

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The discovery sparked a major police investigation, which culminated in 21-year-old Lisa Blagden telling police that she had given birth to Ivory-Rose alone in her family’s bathroom just two days after Christmas, following a shocking concealed pregnancy.

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Flowers, soft toys and heartfelt messages left in tribute to a newborn baby girl who was found dead in at the junction of Old Commercial Road and Victoria Street in Buckland, Portsmouth, on January 25, 2020 at 6.18am. Picture: Millie Salkeld

In statements read out at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court today, Lisa described cleaning and cuddling the new born infant before collapsing on top of her child shortly after the traumatic labour.

Ivory-Rose’s body was taken by her distraught mother to a nearby hedge – but it is believed that wild animals moved the body shortly afterwards.

Now a coroner has deemed the death of Ivory-Rose to be accidental, most likely through suffocation, with Lisa showing ‘strong and instinctive’ nurturing reactions in the moments before she lost consciousness.

Police in Old Commercial Road in January 2020 Picture: Keith Woodland (250120-2)

After hearing evidence from a forensic pathologist and a senior midwife, senior coroner Chris Wilkinson said: ‘It is explained to me by the evidence that Lisa Blagden may not have been aware of her pregnancy and that the symptoms (she was suffering from) could have been her normal cycle of periods.

‘There is no indication that she projected ill-will to the child. Her natural instinct kicked in, and she acted appropriately to deal with the birth.

‘Desperately and tragically, she fell on her new born child that was resting on the floor.

‘Given the desperate and traumatic series of events, it is understandable that the mother found herself desperately at a loss at what to do.’

He added: ‘I appreciate that Lisa has not been able to join us today. I understand that she is improving and it has been an incredibly difficult time over the last year.

‘I can only begin to imagine the emotional shock that (she) would have suffered.’

Lisa’s father attended the hearing and indicated to the coroner that Lisa was continuing to receive support.

In April a judge discharged the 21-year-old over a charge of concealing the birth, saying she was ‘blameless’ for the harrowing circumstances.

Det Chief Insp Paul Longhurst from Hampshire Constabulary said he ‘personally’ did not feel the need to have Lisa endure a criminal proceeding.

The detective said: ‘I think our conclusion is that this was an incredibly sad and tragic of circumstances and while we can all look back and say, “well you could have done this or could have done that”, I don’t think it is for any of us to second guess what Lisa did.

‘Taking this through the criminal justice process was not something we particularly wanted to do.’

In a statement read out by the coroner, Portsmouth resident Ben Frost described discovering Ivory-Rose’s body in Old Commercial Road around 6am, saying he initially thought it was ‘a doll’.

He said: ‘I was reversing (my) van...I saw what I thought was a doll in the middle of the road.

‘The head of what I thought was the doll was on the tram lines.

‘When I realised what it was, I phoned the police.’

Coroner Mr Wilkinson said he hoped the verdict regarding the tragedy would help the Blagden family as they attempted to ‘move forward’.

He said: ‘I very much hope that (Lisa) continues to improve and get the help and support she requires.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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