Foetal abduction accused ‘looked pregnant’

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Loretta Cooke THE STAR Loretta Cooke at the Palm Ridge Magistrates Court. Photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso

Johannesburg - The woman who allegedly ripped open the womb of a pregnant woman to steal her unborn baby had signs of being pregnant herself.

On Thursday, Loretta Cooke’s mother Matilda told the South Gauteng High Court, sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, that her daughter resembled a pregnant woman. She said Cooke’s feet were swollen and that she was big around her tummy.

Loretta, 32, is on trial for cutting open the abdomen of a pregnant woman to steal her baby.

On Wednesday, she pleaded not guilty to the murder of Valencia Behrens and the attempted murder of her newborn baby girl. She also pleaded not guilty to an alternative count of removing the child from its mother’s womb.

Loretta allegedly invited Behrens to her house on January 6, 2012 on the pretext that she would give her a pram and baby clothes for her unborn baby.

According to the indictment, when Behrens arrived, Loretta overpowered her and tied her feet.

“The deceased’s womb was cut open with a blade. Her uterus as well as the baby were removed,” the indictment says.

Behrens bled to death. Her baby survived.

Giving evidence on Thursday, Matilda Cooke could not say whether her daughter was pregnant when asked to confirm the pregnancy.

However, shortly after the incident, she took Loretta to her private doctor for a sonar scan. It was confirmed that there was no sign of pregnancy.

They were referred to a hospital, where it was also confirmed by doctors that there was no sign of pregnancy.

The court heard that the accused did not give birth after the incident.

 

It is believed Loretta had faked a pregnancy and that her friends threw her a baby shower not knowing she wasn’t pregnant.

The trial continues.

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