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Inquest hears gardai investigated premature baby's death after abortion pills handed to paramedics

An inquest has hard that gardai investigated the death of a premature baby after a pack of abortion pills was handed to paramedics at a flat in Dundalk, Co Louth.

Baby Angel Ikhena was born prematurely at 24 weeks on March 4 2017 and died two days later.

The cause of death was complications due to extreme prematurity but the cause of prematurity was not known.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard conflicting evidence from the parents of Baby Angel, who were sharing a flat on Bridge Street in Dundalk.

The infant’s mother Mary Ikhena was not present but her deposition was read out in court.

She said around 6am on March 4 an argument with the baby’s father started. She said items were thrown before she began to cramp and feel weak and she phoned an ambulance. She said she took two paracetamol for pain.

“I knew something wasn’t right. I said if they didn’t come quickly the baby would die,” Ms Ikhena said in her statement.

The infant’s father Charles Zahai said he saw Ms Ikhena taking pills but he did not know what these were.

“I saw her chewing tablets. I don’t know what she took,” he said.

“I knew she was pregnant so I didn’t touch her,” he said.

Witness Princy Montana said the woman had a packet of tablets and 'she took them one by one.’

He said he heard the woman say: “I don’t want no more baby.”

He kept the packet and handed it to paramedics when they arrived.

The woman was rushed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and given steroids to delay labour.

Baby Angel was born at 3.55pm weighing 700 grammes. She was stabilised and transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at the National Maternity Hospital.

Ms Ikhena was informed her baby was unlikely to survive and she held her in her arms before the infant’s breathing tube was removed and she died at 4.10pm on March 6.

Detective Inspector Martin Beggy investigated the alleged report the mother had taken the abortion drug misoprostol.

The woman had undergone blood tests on arrival to hospital in Drogheda and DI Beggy sent this sample to the state laboratory for testing.

Results revealed no evidence of the drug in the mother’s system.

“There were a number of allegations made but no evidence to support these,” DI Beggy told the inquest.

A file was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecution and no charges were brought.

The cause of death given by Assistant State Patholigist Dr Michael Curtis was complications of extreme prematurity following delivery at 24 weeks.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned an open verdict because the inquest could not fully determine why the woman went into labour at 24 weeks gestation.

“My condolences to you. It’s a sad story. It’s very difficult when they are born at 24 weeks, they are very vulnerable,” the coroner said.