Mr Justice Coleridge recently discussed cases of Women that are seeking fertility treatment in Nigeria. What is believed to be happening is that the women are being ‘tricked’ by individuals that are allowing the women to believe that they have fallen pregnant and in fact given birth. The women are then paying money for the baby that they believe to have given birth to and paying very high amounts of money.
The Judge said that there was more than one case “featuring almost identical facts” before English courts, describing the situation as “very serious” and questioned the “lack of involvement” of Nigerian authorities.
The judge raised concerns after awarding one couple who had fallen victim to such a scam, custody of the baby they had believed was theirs. Mr Justice Coleridge, sitting in the Family Division of the High Court, said the case – involving a Nigerian couple from London – was “very worrying” and gave rise to “very real public interest”.
He went on: “The circumstances in this case are completely unusual, very bizarre and truly worrying.” The court heard that the London couple had fallen victim to an elaborate scam and tricked into paying £6,000 for so-called fertility treatment.
The case reached the courts when social services became suspicious that they were not the baby’s biological parents and took her into care. When a DNA test revealed the truth, the woman insisted that she had been drugged while undergoing a process that she thought was a genuine birth and believed that the child was hers.
Mr Justice Coleridge concluded that she and her husband were unwitting participants caught up in “the most appalling” scam and that the baby should be returned to them as “special guardians”. The court heard that the couple had been ‘desperate’ for a baby and travelled to Nigeria after failing to conceive in the UK. A doctor gave the lady injections and tablets which resulted in starting to feel the “symptoms of being pregnant” including a bloated stomach and weight gain.
That September, a scan at a UK hospital could not detect a baby or a heart beat the lady stated that her doctor in Nigeria “assured” her that it was not unusual for the baby not to show up on the scan. The baby was “born” in January 2011 and suspicions were raised and the local authority alerted when the lady explained.
DNA tests confirmed that Mr and Mrs S were not the baby’s biological parents and the mother was left “stunned”, the judge said. It was discovered that the birth of the baby had been artificial in Nigeria and that the child had been stolen or bought from unknown parents. Social services then took the baby, in to care.
In a statement the lady involved told the court: “In January 2011 during what I perceived to be the birth of O, I recall a doctor inducing labour through intravenous drip and I experienced what was labour, a very traumatic delivery and a baby was presented to me covered in blood as would have been normal in a delivery room. “I felt all the natural manifestations of labour and delivery and my baby, O, was presented to me in the manner described. ”She then added that she was distraught when the baby was taken from her.
“In short, I have been depressed and traumatised. We have struggled to maintain any level of sanity as I am now convinced that I have been a victim of a very serious fraud by those who have exploited my vulnerability and infertility for their own financial gain,” she said.
The little girl was placed into foster care and will now be returned to the original individuals after the order by the court.
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