Woman appears in court charged with murder

Woman appears in court charged with murder

It’s after the body of a baby was found in woodland in 1998

A woman has appeared in court charged with the murder of a baby who was discovered in woodland 26 years ago.

Baby “Callum” was discovered close to the Gulliver’s World theme park in Warrington in March 1998.

Joanne Sharkey, 54, of West Derby, Liverpool, appeared at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday charged with murder and concealment of the birth of a child.

Wearing a brown sweatshirt and with brown hair tied up in a short ponytail, she spoke only to confirm her name, date of birth and address, and appeared to be shaking as she stood in the dock.

The defendant, of Denham Close, was remanded in custody and will appear before Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday.

Chairman of the magistrates bench Fraser Geekie said: “These proceedings are too serious for this court to deal with.”

The hearing lasted three minutes.

Sharkey was arrested in July 2023 along with a man who has since been released without charge, Cheshire Police said.

Detectives named the infant Callum after the Callands district of Warrington where he was found dead, as his true identity could not be confirmed.

A funeral service was arranged by local people and he was buried in Warrington Cemetery a few months later.

The headstone, which was paid for with money raised by local residents, was inscribed: “Baby Callum, precious child of God. Laid to rest July 27, 1998. With love, from the people of Warrington.”

Detective Inspector Hannah Friend, of Cheshire Police’s major crime review team, said: “I understand that this is an extremely emotional case which has attracted a lot of attention over the past 26 years, however I would ask people not to speculate.

“Criminal proceedings are now active against Joanne Sharkey and she has the right to a fair trial.”

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