Mother of baby abandoned in shopping bag still not found, court told

The mother of a baby found abandoned in a shopping bag in east London in January has still not been identified, a court has been told.

The baby girl was found by a dog walker in freezing temperatures in East Ham at around 9.15pm on January 18, wrapped in a towel in a reusable shopping bag.

She was named Elsa by hospital staff who cared for her due to the sub-zero temperatures on the night she was found.

East London Family Court heard on Tuesday that the child’s mother has not yet come forward and police inquiries into her identity are continuing.

East London Family Court in Canary Wharf (Callum Parke/PA)
The hearing took place at East London Family Court (Callum Parke/PA)

Kate Claxton, representing Newham London Borough Council, said: “The police currently have no leads.”

Ms Claxton told the court that the ongoing investigation means that Elsa’s birth cannot be registered, meaning no final decision regarding her care can be made.

Judge Carol Atkinson adjourned the case until May 17.

The Metropolitan Police said in January that Elsa was believed to be less than an hour old when she was found at the junction of Greenway and High Street South.

It is believed she was kept warm by the dog walker with blankets found with her and was not injured in any way.

The force said it was “highly likely” that she was born after a “concealed pregnancy”.

Officers also previously expressed concern for the mother’s welfare and urged her to come forward, with a woman spotted entering the Greenway from the High Street South entrance at around 8.45pm on January 18.

Newborn baby found in east London
The junction of the Greenway and High Street South in East Ham, east London, where baby Elsa was found (Yui Mok/PA)

Chief Superintendent Simon Crick, lead for policing in Newham, said in January: “We believe the woman is black, was wearing a large dark coat with a light-coloured scarf or hood around her neck, and had a rucksack on her back.”

Mr Crick urged anyone with information to come forward “immediately”, with anyone who believes they know who the child’s mother asked to call 999 using the reference CAD 6876/18 Jan.

The BBC reported that a previous court hearing was told it took doctors three hours to record Elsa’s temperature due to the cold, with the Met Office confirming that temperatures dropped to as low as minus 4C on the night she was found.

Hospital staff later named her Elsa in a reference to the character from the film Frozen.

The court-appointed guardian asked the court at the earlier hearing to change her name, but Judge Atkinson refused the request as it gives the child something to “hang on to”.