A NEWBORN baby snatched from a hospital maternity unit in the north of Portugal more than a year ago has been found safe and well.
Baby Andreia was just two-days-old when she was stolen from Hospital Padre Américo/Vale do Sousa, in Penafiel near Porto in February 2006.
The case shocked the nation and, as a result, tighter security measures were introduced at maternity units across the country. The child was recovered on Monday this week after police in Valongo, 40km from Penafiel, received a tip-off from the sister of the abductor’s boyfriend. Thirty-seven-year-old Alice Ferreira is reported to have confessed to the crime.
Suspicions were apparently raised when it appeared Ferreira did not possess the necessary registration papers to arrange the baptism wished for by the family.
The woman became more convinced something was not right after she saw pictures of the alleged abductor on the internet, caught on hospital security cameras, which bore a striking similarity to her brother’s girlfriend.
For 13 months, the baby, who was known by the name of Joana, lived in Valongo with Alice Ferreira, her partner and three children from the couple’s previous relationships.
On Monday, when police visited the home, Ferreira admitted she was not the mother of Andreia and told police she had pretended to be pregnant in order to “trap her boyfriend into staying with her” as “he was her great passion”.
She got away with the scheme because her boyfriend, an EDP worker, was constantly away due to the nature of his work.
After nine months of supposedly being pregnant, she allegedly visited the Penafiel hospital and snatched Andreia who had been in a nurses’ area.
Ferreira’s partner is said to be deeply shocked and upset at finding out that the baby is not his.
The baby is currently with Social Services, pending the results of DNA tests, but is expected to be returned to Isaura and Albino Pinto, parents of the little girl snatched from Penafiel hospital on February 17, last year.
Alice Ferreira was due in court for an initial hearing this week and could face up to 10 years in prison.
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