The final resting place of an unidentified baby who was found dead in a recycling yard after being dumped in a bin has been marked with a teddy bear-shaped gravestone.
The girl, named only as Baby S, was less than a day old when her body was discovered on May 14, 2020, at the Sackers waste depot in Needham Market, Suffolk.
Tests revealed that she may have been smothered before she died.
Baby S was buried in a tiny white coffin on February 17 this year at a simple funeral ceremony, largely arranged by Sackers, in the Millennium Cemetery in Ipswich.
Sackers supplied the headstone after soil around the grave was allowed to settle.
The stone reads: ‘Baby S sleeps here. So small, so sweet, so soon, sleep little one, sleep.’
Baby S was buried in a tiny white coffin on February 17 this year at a simple funeral ceremony
The unidentified newborn’s stone reads: ‘Baby S sleeps here. So small, so sweet, so soon, sleep little one, sleep.’
The poignant funeral was attended by 15 mourners including police, council officials and staff from Sackers.
Some wiped away tears as her coffin was carried to her grave with a single white rose on top in the children’s section of the cemetery.
The waste management company said in a Facebook post: ‘The terrible news of finding Baby S on May 14 2020 at our recycling site reached thousands of people all over the world and has touched many of our followers since we first found her.
‘After months of letting her burial ground settle, her teddy bear headstone has now been placed so she never gets forgotten.’
A spokesperson for the firm added: ‘It was never in doubt that Baby S’ short life had to be marked and remembered, and it was never in question that it was our responsibility to ensure that happened.
‘We wanted to make sure those who wanted to pay their respects were able to as her very sad story affected so many.’
The body of Baby S was discovered at Sackers at the height of the first lockdown as staff were sorting waste on a conveyor belt.
The funeral of the unidentified baby girl was attended by 15 mourners including police, council officials and staff from Sackers waste depot
Police believe she was dumped in a bin at one of 54 commercial sites in the Ipswich area which had waste picked up and taken to the centre earlier in the day by two Sackers lorries.
An inquest in June this year heard how the mother of Baby S has never been traced, despite extensive police appeals for her to come forward.
A post mortem by Home Office pathologist Dr Virginia Fitzpatrick-Swallow found that Baby S had ‘numerous severe injuries’ caused by her body going through the waste recycling process after her death.
The examination also revealed that she had head injuries which were consistent with a traumatic birth.
But further tests carried out by consultant neuropathologist Prof Safa Al-Sarraj could not rule out that some injuries were caused by ‘shaking trauma’ or ‘smothering’.
He suggested that some bruising on her body, particularly around her face and neck, was ‘not typical of birth trauma’, and said she could have been suffocated, the inquest heard.
Senior coroner Nigel Parsley recorded an open conclusion at Suffolk Coroner’s Court in Ipswich after hearing how her cause of death was given as an unascertained brain injury.
The baby girl was found on May 14, 2020, at the Sackers waste depot in Needham Market, Suffolk. A teddy-bear gravestone has been placed to mark the baby’s death
Mr Parsley said that the traumatic brain injury could have been ‘birth related trauma or inflicted or accidental trauma’.
He added: ‘Exactly when and how this injury occurred could not be ascertained on the available evidence.
‘We simply cannot say how Baby S came by her death and how she received the injuries which led to her death. I will have to record an open conclusion.’
Detective Chief Inspector Karl Nightingale, the senior investigating officer in the case, said Baby S had inflated lungs which indicated she was born alive.
He told the hearing that she was ‘a day old at most’. Mr Nightingale added: ‘The pathology was significantly hindered by the injuries caused by waste processing.’
But he said there were some injuries which were ‘not caused by the waste recycling process’.
He added: ‘There was a potential for smothering and inflicted injury, and shaking was mentioned, but Dr Fitzpatrick-Swallow was unable to say what mechanism caused her death.
‘It could be multiple mechanisms. She is unable to say what is the most likely or least likely.’
Suffolk Police believe that the baby girl found among waste was no more than 48 hours old
Mr Nightingale said it had been impossible to identify the bin which Baby S, who was of back or mixed race ethnicity, was dumped in.
Officers viewed more than 11,000 hours of CCTV footage and visited 800 homes and businesses around the potential sites in their hunt for clues, but found no evidence.
Mr Nightingale said: ‘We are no closer to identifying how she got into the waste processing system. We have to keep an open mind as to how Baby S sustained those injuries.’
Police earlier confirmed that they had been trying to use DNA from the body of Baby S to try and identify her.
Speaking after the inquest, Mr Nightingale said he remained ‘optimistic’ that police would one day ‘piece together final pieces of the jigsaw’ and find out what had happened to her.
Celebrant Patrick Eade spoke movingly beside the graveside of Baby S at her funeral, comparing her to a ‘rosebud’ that doesn’t bloom as he addressed mourners.
He said: ‘Baby S, you will never be forgotten. May the light of love shine upon you, and on those who care for you, and may you come to the end of your journey in gentleness and joy.
‘Your memory remains in our hearts, and as long as we remember you, you will live on. With love and respect, we lay you down to rest. Go your way in peace.’
He also read a poem, which began with the words: ‘The world may never notice if a rosebud doesn’t bloom, or even pause to wonder if the petals fall too soon.
Baby S was buried in a tiny white coffin on February 17 this year at a simple funeral ceremony, largely arranged by Sackers, in the Millennium Cemetery in Ipswich
‘But every life that ever forms, or ever comes to be, touches the world in some small way for all eternity.’
Earlier Mr Eade spoke about the baby’s unknown family at a private funeral service, saying she had died ‘in the most tragic circumstances’.
He said: ‘It’s difficult to imagine what family members of Baby S are experiencing. To move on is to put something behind you, forget about it and never look back. To ‘go on’ is to forever carry it forward with you and never forget.
‘A bereaved parent will never move on, but ‘go on’. If a message could reach the family of Baby S, I imagine it would be – ‘Please tell what I can do to help’.’
Mr Eade also praised police and staff from Sackers, saying: ‘Each of you have played a part in ‘doing the right thing’, as you tried to fit together the pieces of this tragic jigsaw and ensure that Baby S will be laid to rest in a dignified manner, never forgotten, and extend help to those in need.’
He added: ‘We will think of you often as days go past, asking why your life was not meant to last.
‘The question we all ask to an imagined sky, how can this be and always asking why.’
The ceremony included the playing of ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and ‘The Long and Winding Road’ by The Beatles.
Suffolk Police are still urging the mother of Baby S or anyone who may have information about her to come forward.
Anyone with information should contact Suffolk Police.