A couple living in France have been arrested and charged with "habitual abuse and neglect" after a 15-month-old baby girl was found to be existing in the trunk of their car.
The parents were indicted on Sunday, according to the prosecutor of Brive (Corrèze).
While the girl, who has reportedly been hidden inside the vehicle since birth, is out of danger, there are "significant delays" in her physical condition and motor skills.
“The infant doesn’t have the right size or weight for her age, she is psychologically delayed, and she displays a mentality and behavior that don’t conform to her age,” said local prosecutor Jean-Pierre Laffitte.
“It’s a situation that defies imagination,” he added.
Reportedly, the mother, aged 45, had concealed her pregnancy from her family and friends. Her husband (aged 40) claims not to have been aware of the existence of the child. Apparently he was arrested on Friday night, in a "highly alcoholic" state and DNA tests have been run to confirm parentage. His wife was also taken into custody.
Child discovered in the trunk of the car
The couple's vehicle was sent to a garage in Terrasson (Dordogne) on Friday and mechanics were alarmed to hear moans coming from the trunk of the Peugeot 307 Break. They were further concerned about a strong odor of excrement emanating from the vehicle.
The owner of the car apparently laughed off their concerns, saying that the strange noises were coming from toys which had been switched on inside the car.
However, the mechanics were unconvinced and opened the trunk, to find a naked and dehydrated baby girl in a basket, aged around 15 months.
While the child had no marks from violence, she was obviously in need of care. On checking, the birth of the child had not been registered with the state.
According to La Parisien, (French language) the child had also spent some time in the cab of the car, as it was very dirty and covered with debris.
Residents of Brignac-la-Plaine (Corrèze), where the parents live, remember strange details about the car.
"When it was hot, the car was covered in blankets," one of the neighbors told a local newspaper, La Montagne.
“The car always stayed outside at night [and not in the garage], so if the little girl was inside it, we didn’t see anything,” said another neighbor.
Claude, a pensioner who lives opposite the couple, told Le Parisien, “We didn’t have much contact with them. She barely said hello, and they didn’t really want to integrate into the neighborhood. How could we have known?”
“The baby was hidden from all points of view, apparently since birth,” added prosecutor Laffitte.
The parents, who are originally from Portugal, have been charged with child abuse and neglect, and social services have taken into care their three other children, aged 4, 9 and 10 years old.
According to Sud Ouest (French language), apparently "denial of pregnancy" is the first explanation that comes to mind in this case, but officials are awaiting the outcome of psychological and psychiatric reports on the wife.