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Man at centre of abandoned baby probe

A HUDDERSFIELD man is at the centre of a police investigation over a baby abandoned in Portugal.

A HUDDERSFIELD man is at the centre of a police investigation over a baby abandoned in Portugal.

Mark Beddoes and Katherine Penny (the building where they live) 158

Former Shelley High School pupil Mark Beddoes, 29, and his girlfriend Katherine Penny, 23, allegedly abandoned their three-month-old baby son Charles close to Faro Airport in Portugal, before catching a flight to Gatwick.

The pair walked into Bournemouth Police Station last night to be questioned by officers.

Baby Charles, who is now being looked after in a Portuguese orphanage, is in need of an operation to cure his cleft lip.

Friends of Miss Penny, who comes from Basingstoke, Hampshire, told reporters that she could not afford corrective surgery for the baby.

Mr Beddoes has claimed that his girlfriend told him that the child had been placed in care because they were desperate for money.

A judge in the Algarve resort of Faro is now considering whether to place an extradition order on the couple.

Under Portuguese law, the maximum penalty for abandoning a child is eight years in jail.

It is understood that news of Charles's birth was not revealed to the couple's families.

Mark Beddoes's mother Mrs Margaret Harris, 56, of Fairfields, Upper Denby, was said to be shocked when she heard the news of her baby grandson.

She said: "I am speechless. He never said why he was back in England and never mentioned a girlfriend or a baby."

Her husband Peter Harris, Mark's stepfather, added: "At teatime we got a call from a woman at an orphanage in Portugal asking `Are you aware they have abandoned the baby?' My first thought was: `What baby?'.

"I had no idea what was happening and the woman said she thought the police would be in touch."

Mark Beddoes left his family home in Upper Denby when he was 20 because the village was "too quiet for him".

Mr Beddoes's father Alan, of Windmill Crescent, Skelmanthorpe, works for Kirklees Council. He was not available for comment today.

The couple have been staying at a flat in Bournemouth and walked into the town's police station yesterday to talk to police about baby Charles.

Mr Beddoes is quoted in one newspaper as saying: "I miss his smile and I am so angry and upset about what has happened.

"I have got a nice heart and I have been treated badly but I am partly to blame. I should have been stronger."

Mr Beddoes apparently reacted with "shock" when reporters contacted him and told him where the baby had been found.

Paul Green, a friend of Mr Beddoes, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "He took her (Katherine) away and I could hear some shouting, some yelling.

"She came back in tears and it was Mark who went to Katherine and said `Look, we are going to the police station now'."

As Miss Penny left the flat in Bournemouth yesterday before heading to the police station, she told reporters: "Leave me alone, I've got enough problems without all this."

Portuguese police said the couple lived in the Algarve resort of Albufeira and worked in the timeshare industry. They are alleged to have left the baby in a buggy near Faro Airport on Sunday morning and flown to Britain.

Captain Edmundo Emilio, a Faro police spokesman, said an investigation was launched after the baby was found at about 8.30am by a woman walking her dog.

"The police were called and he was sent to hospital by ambulance. He did not need treatment," he said. "He went afterwards to an orphanage in Faro."

The baby was recognised by a nurse in the hospital as he was born there on October 2 last year with a distinctive cleft upper lip, he said.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said they had been in contact with the baby's wider family. The British Consul visited the baby yesterday and said he was "very well".

Dr Luis Villas Boas, director of the centre looking after Charles, described him as a "beautiful" baby who had clearly been well cared for.

He said: "He is very well developed and it looks like the child has never been ill treated since he was born.

"Charles is perfectly OK. He was sleeping a while ago and he is well."

Dr Villas Boas said he was pleased that Charles' parents had come forward and hoped that they would soon be reunited with their son.

The centre Refugio Aboim Ascencao in Faro is a non-governmental organisation for children who are deemed to be at risk.

The Foreign Office spokeswoman said any possible criminal charges were "a matter for the Portuguese authorities".


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