Still searching for answers
A decade after finding the deceased infant dubbed ‘‘ Angel Baby’’, Paul and Christine Hughan hope the child’s mother has found peace. The couple speaks about the grim discovery 10 years on and say they still hold concerns for the mother.
A decade has passed since Tatura grandfather Paul Hughan made the most grim of discoveries.
Taking the rubbish out at his then Mouser Rd address about 5 pm on Wednesday, July 23, 2008, Mr Hughan investigated an innocentlooking green bag presumably left behind at a nearby bus stop.
‘‘In the bag was a baby,’’ Mr Hughan recalled 10 years later.
The newborn infant was deceased.
Unwilling to initially talk about the event, Mr Hughan and his wife Christine have come forward on the 10th anniversary of the discovery to share their experience in the hope of sending a message of support to the still unknown mother of the baby.
But the couple continues to worry about what could have been.
‘‘I came home from work at about half-past four and noticed the green bag at the bus stop and just thought that one of the kids had left their school gear there or something like that,’’ Mr Hughan said.
The bag had been noticed by Mrs Hughan and her daughter several hours earlier when they drove past, but they did not investigate.
In the car with them that day was the Hughans’ infant grandson Robbie.
‘‘Robbie was between one or two months, which was probably a similar age to this baby. Robbie’s just turned 10,’’ Mrs Hughan said.
‘‘It would probably be hard on the family thinking that child would be 10 now.’’
Mr Hughan now believes it was fortunate he made the discovery.
‘‘I’m glad that I found the baby and not someone else,’’ he said.
The Hughans still continue to worry about the series of events.
‘‘The thing that has bugged me . . . I sort of wondered if I’d stopped earlier, would the baby still be alive?’’ Mr Hughan said.
Intense media attention and the shock of the discovery deeply affected the couple at the time and neither initially wanted to be put in the public spotlight.
The support of friends and family was instrumental in getting Mr Hughan through the ordeal, he said.
On initially making the grim find, Mr Hughan said he was shocked and confused.
‘‘I reckon it took me 30 seconds to a minute to say, ‘What am I going to do? Do I stay here and ring the police? Do I ring Chris first? What do I do?’
‘‘I probably did the wrong thing by putting the bag in the back of the vehicle,’’ he said.
‘‘But I needed to go and see Chris and what I said was, ‘You just better check to see what I’m seeing is what I’m seeing’.’’
There was little doubt the baby was no longer alive, according to Mr Hughan.
‘‘I had to take it home to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I did check to see if it was breathing or not. I just wanted confirmation that it was deceased.’’
In the days and weeks, even years, afterwards the Hughans became involved in the enormous community reaction that followed.
Flowers and toys piled up at the bus stop left by locals also trying to deal with the tragedy.
A service for the infant dubbed ‘‘ Angel Baby’’ was later held at St Brendan’s Catholic Church, led by Monsignor Peter Jeffrey and attended by hundreds.
‘‘Monsignor was terrific,’’ Mr Hughan said.
‘‘There was a lot of toys left there (at the bus stop) and we sort of took them into the church. They were mostly put into the grave.’’
Thousands of dollars left over from a fundraiser to cover the funeral costs was donated to Goulburn Valley Base Hospital children’s ward.
The Hughans established a small rose garden at the bus stop as a tribute and that garden is still there today, well maintained.
Mr and Mrs Hughan continue to worry for the mother.
‘‘We would like the mother to be okay,’’ Mrs Hughan said.
Both hoped with the passing of 10 years and the healing of time, the mother might consider coming forward to ease community concerns for her wellbeing and perhaps finally give the baby a name.
‘‘Even if she could anonymously see someone,’’ Mr Hughan said.
Still searching for answers: A decade has passed since Tatura grandfather Paul Hughan came across a deceased newborn infant.