25 Mar 2009

Plane birth mum accused of abandoning baby

4:07 pm on 25 March 2009

A woman has appeared in court on charges of assault and abandoning a baby after she secretly gave birth on a flight from Samoa to New Zealand.

The woman, 29, gave birth to the baby named Grace on the flight from Apia to Auckland last Thursday and left her in the plane's toilet cubicle.

The mother, who has one other child, appeared calm during a brief appearance at Manukau District Court on Wednesday afternoon.

She was remanded in custody without plea until 9 April.

The woman sought and was granted interim name suppression in order for family in Samoa, including her ill father, to be told of the charges.

Police will not say what facility the woman has been remanded to, but her baby is in the care of Child, Youth and Family and is with relatives in Auckland.

The Department of Immigration is also carrying out a separate investigation into the incident.

The woman underwent surgery at Middlemore Hospital last week after what police say was a difficult and complicated birth.

About 150 passengers were on the plane and neither they nor the cabin crew knew what the woman was going through.