A newborn baby girl who was stuffed into a Tesco supermarket bag and dumped on a Bolton country lane may have lain dead for up to 11 days after unwitting passersbys mistakenly assumed her body was ‘rubbish’.
A message saying ‘Please, please bury him Islamic burial please’ was left at the side of Ox Hey Lane, Lostock, with the infant just a few hours after she took her first breath.
But passing walkers and motorists who spotted the bag at the roadside thought it was litter with one witness believing it contained a toy doll, an inquest into her death heard.
The truth emerged when a couple walking their dog picked the bundle up in order to place it in their own litter bin.
The baby was found wrapped in a white shirt alongside a pair of jogging bottoms. Despite an Asian woman being seen sobbing at the scene of the tragedy, neither the baby’s mother nor father have ever come forward despite public pleas.
Police later gave the child the name Alia, which means beautiful.
Today, 20 months since the child’s discovery on March 14 2013, it emerged despite an exhaustive investigation by police to trace her family, the little girl’s identity still remains a mystery – her cause of death is also unknown.
GMP have reviewed 3,000 hours of CCTV, traced discarded bus receipts and even visited 53 people in a 15mile radius who had bought the same Tesco white shirt found with Alia, traced through Clubcard information.
DNA samples taken from the baby were unable to identify her parents as matching samples were not said to be known to police.
NHS Direct, walk-in clinics, colleges and even schools were all asked for assistance as well as investigations into the circulation of shop carrier bags.
The inquest was told that a shopping bag had been spotted by several people in the days before Alia was found, yet people had believed it to have contained rubbish.
One couple, who were walking their dog, made the grim discovery after picking it up in order to place it in their own bin.
At the hearing coroner Mr Alan Walsh recorded an open verdict. He said: “It saddens me a great deal that baby Alia lived for a matter of hours, maybe only two hours. She had an extremely short life.
“It’s appropriate that the police called her Alia, which means beautiful, sadly her beautiful short life came to a rapid end. I have to accept that very sadly the deceased could not be identified.
“It is likely that the bag had been put in its position sometime between March 3-10 2013.
“’It saddens me she wasn’t able to blossom into a beautiful young lady. It is extremely sad she should have died in these circumstances without any medical help or medical attention.
“I’m disappointed that the parents of the child did not come forward. It saddens me she would not have had the benefits of parents to lay her to rest in the appropriate way.
“I accept the police inquiries have been exhausted but the file will remain open, if any information comes forward the police will investigate.
“I believe it is not too late for someone to come forward. I believe it is a matter that would be important to establish what happened to baby Alia.”
Earlier the inquest was told it was likely that Alia had only lived for a matter of hours and she was found with the placenta and her umbilical cord still attached.
Tests revealed she was a full term baby of 36-weeks-old.
Dog walker Colin Eccles. who made the discovery whilst walking with his wife Marilyn around 5pm, said: “She (Marilyn) said, ‘just look at that bag of rubbish down under the hedge’, as it stood out. It was a Tesco bag.”
He said his wife commented that there was ‘a lot of rubbish in the bag’ and said to ‘pull it out and take it home and put in the bin’.
He added: “As I pulled the bag out there was some material in the bag, as I pulled the bag the material fell to one side. I opened the material and then that was the time I saw the child.”
Another witness told the inquest how days earlier he had been walking with his wife Jane on Mothering Sunday last year when they initially spotted a black Sports Direct carrier bag on the left hand side of the lane underneath the hedgerow that looked ‘totally out of place’.
Dean Crombie added that Mrs Crombie had complained of the rubbish and they were again both to see the bag two days later.
It is believed the Tesco bag had been within the Sports Direct bag which was never found.
Mrs Crombie in a statement read to the court said as she drove along the lane on the day of the discovery she saw the bag and saw ‘clothing poured out of the bag’ which appeared to be a white T-shirt or vest.
A student at the nearby Bolton Wanderers Academy Arron Goodison, who had also spotted the bag, said he had seen what he believed to be ‘a doll’.
He added: “I thought I had seen an arm coming from the bag.”
He also told the inquest: “There was this strange smell and we saw clothing or something like clothing. There was a weird smell every time we went past it.
“We didn’t think anything of it at first. It was a black bag, I saw clothing. When I looked into it, it looked like a doll.”
He said he had also seen an Asian woman ‘acting strangely’ in the vicinity.
He said: “She was walking up and down and looked suspicious. She seemed like she was crying, she looked like she was really upset. She seemed like she was crying because her face was down.”
Home Office pathologist Dr Philip Lumb said he was unable to find a medical cause of death but that he was able to conclude that Alia had lived for a number of hours.
X-rays revealed her lungs contained air and gas was present in the stomach supporting the fact she had taken a first breath and swallowed air.
He added that he wasn’t able to confirm if any trauma had occurred but could exclude major injuries.
Detective Inspector Aaron Duggan told the inquest that the white Florence and Fred shirt with a 50” collar was investigated with 53 sold locally, and all owners were visited and spoken to.
He said: “We completed best chance inquiries to find out what happened to Alia.”