Woman charged with murder of baby found in woodland in 1998

A woman has been charged with murder by detectives investigating the death of a baby found in woodland in Warrington more than 25 years ago.

Baby “Callum” was discovered close to the Gulliver’s World theme park in the Callands area of the town in March 1998 and a murder investigation was launched.

On Monday Joanne Sharkey, of West Derby in Liverpool, was charged with murder.

The 54-year-old will appear in custody at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, charged over the death.

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 twenty-six 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. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

A man was arrested in July 2023 but has 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 burial and 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.”

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