Still search­ing for answers

The Tatura Guardian - - Front Page - By Myles Peter­son

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.

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