A CLIFF-FACE search for a newborn baby girl, missing since her mother walked out of a maternity hospital on Tuesday, was called off yesterday after the child’s body was found by climbers.
Earlier, police had found the body of her mother, Charlotte Bevan, 30, nearby.
She was last seen on CCTV walking out of Bristol’s St Michael’s maternity hospital carrying her daughter, Zaani Tiana Bevan Malbrouck, at 9pm on Tuesday.
Ms Bevan’s partner Pascal Malbrouck left the hospital at around 8pm, with staff visiting the baby and new mother half an hour later. They returned to check on Ms Bevan at 9:05pm and alerted police when they realised she and Zaani had gone.
Ms Bevan, who was suffering from mental ill-health, was wearing only hospital slippers and her daughter was wrapped in a blanket against the cold weather.
A walker alerted police on Wednesday night after spotting the white slippers and multi-coloured blanket on a fence on the cliff edge at the Avon Gorge in Bristol.
Officers discovered Ms Bevan’s body on the cliff face and located the body of her daughter nearby yesterday afternoon following “intensive” searches.
Ms Bevan’s mother Rachel Fortune, 59, paid tribute to her daughter and granddaughter in a statement. She said: “My beautiful daughter and granddaughter are now at peace.
“The family would like to thank all the friends of Pascal, Charlotte and Zaani, some of whom we have only met today.We would also like to say thank you for all the messages from everyone.”
The Universities Hospitals Bristol Trust has launched an investigation into the incident.
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A spokeswoman said the review would assess “if there was anything we could have done to prevent this tragic and unexplained death.”
But Mrs Fortune thanked staff at the hospital, which is around two miles from where the bodies were found.
“We wish to thank all the hospital staff at St Michael’s and the mental healthcare team, past and present,” she added.
“The response and support from the public has been overwhelming and we would like to thank you all. We would also like to give our thanks to Avon and Somerset Police and volunteers from Avon Search and Rescue.”
Ms Bevan is believed to have suffered from schizophrenia, and depression and sleep deprivation since giving birth.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Crisp said a walker had found the slippers and blanket at around 12pm on Wednesday.
In a press conference overlooking the Avon Gorge yesterday, beside Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge, Mr Crisp described the case as “dreadful, awful, frustrating”. “I regret to inform you that a short time ago on the cliff face close to Charlotte, the body of a small girl has been found,” he said. “No formal identification has so far taken place but we anticipate that it is going to be Charlotte’s daughter.
“This is a dreadful, awful, frustrating business and our thoughts are with the family at this time.”
Mr Crisp said police were now investigating the deaths on behalf of the coroner, adding neither was being treated as suspicious.
He said he could not answer questions on whether Ms Bevan should have been more carefully monitored while in hospital.
The detective previously described Ms Bevan as a “good mother” and said she had been making “great progress” at the maternity unit.
Friends described Ms Bevan as part of a “happy couple” and described her disappearance as “out of character”.
Hours before she disappeared, Ms Bevan posted a self-help video on her Facebook page called “Get Through Positive and Negative Thinking Rough Patches”.
Earlier this month she uploaded happy pictures of herself with her baby bump, smiling with Mr Malbrouck, on the social networking site.
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