The wife of a former soldier has been found guilty of the murder of her newborn baby by abandoning him in woodland after she discovered she was pregnant too late to have an abortion.

Silipa Keresi was convicted at Winchester Crown Court of the murder of Maliki Keresi who was found dead, wrapped in a bath towel, in woodland near to the defendant’s home in Hythe, New Forest, Hampshire, on March 5 2020.

The trial heard that the 38-year-old, from Fiji, 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 also said that her husband, Dharma Keresi, who left the Army in 2017, used to beat her and hit her with his army belt.

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, told the trial that in November 2019, Keresi visited the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) seeking a termination.

But she had left the appointment distressed after a scan revealed she was 26 weeks and 5 days pregnant – past the legal limit of 24 weeks for an abortion.

Miss Maylin said: “Silipa Keresi appeared very shocked, she became visibly uncomfortable, she got off the bed abruptly and tried to leave.”

She said that several attempts were made by the midwife service to contact the defendant during her pregnancy, including a visit to her home, but she failed to attend appointments.

A post-mortem showed that the baby boy breathed and excreted following birth and would have suffered from hypothermia, the court heard.

The autopsy found that Maliki had no abnormalities or injuries and the cause of death was given as “omission of care”.

A police appeal to find the mother was launched after the discovery of his body and the defendant was traced after a midwife came forward.

The judge, Mr Justice Garnham, adjourned the case for sentencing on Thursday December 2, and remanded Keresi into custody.

He told her: “There is only one sentence available to the court which is life imprisonment.”