A MOTHER accused of murdering her newborn baby by abandoning him in woodland has told a court she did not seek help during her pregnancy because “her life was in chaos” as she feared being deported from the country.

Silipa Keresi is accused of the murder of Maliki Keresi by abandoning him wrapped in a bath towel in woodland near to her home in Hythe, New Forest, Hampshire, on March 5, 2020.

The 38-year-old from Fiji, who has four previous children, faces an alternative charge at Winchester Crown Court of infanticide which states she was responsible for the death while her “mind was disturbed” following the birth.

The trial has heard that Keresi, who is married to a former Commonwealth soldier in the British Army, was stressed at the time by the process of applying for permission to stay in the UK combined with financial difficulties.

The defendant told the court that her life had been “hell for the past couple of years” with her family being homeless while living in a small hotel room, surviving on contributions from a food bank.

She said: “I felt my life was just chaos.”

Keresi claimed that her husband Dharma Keresi, who left the Army in 2017, used to beat her and hit her with his Army belt.

She said she felt she could not leave him because she did not know where to get support or “what I can do to survive”.

The defendant, who worked at a launderette, said that she was aware that at the time of the pregnancy she did not have the right to remain in the UK or to have a job and that she was worried she would be deported.

The trial has heard that Keresi visited the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a charity which facilitates terminations, on November 19 2020, where she found out she was 26 weeks and five days pregnant, which is past the legal limit of 24 weeks for an abortion.

Keresi said: “Because I was already stressed and depressed with life, this was how I was feeling when I found out this news.”

She said her “life had been hell” and that she did not tell her husband that she was pregnant because she thought “he wasn’t going to be happy”.

The court has heard that Keresi failed to attend midwife appointments during the pregnancy.

Addressing the jury, defence barrister James Newton-Price QC said that at the time of the pregnancy, Keresi suffered “acute stress” from her circumstances.

He said that the defendant was “afraid of her husband’s temper” but was also concerned of the consequences of separation.

Mr Newton-Price said: “She was living in circumstances that were not fit for her family and not fit to have another child.

“She feared she would be deported or separated from her children.”

He said these stresses led her to be in denial about the pregnancy and caused her mind to be “disturbed”.

Mr Newton-Price added: “Silipa Keresi left her baby in those woods not out of conscious malice or deliberate cruelty but rather she was subject to the most acute stresses and desperation.

“She was not a bad mother and not a bad person either.”

Keresi denies both charges and the trial continues.