Man and woman charged with illegal abortion offences in Cirencester

TWO people have been charged with offences after an investigation which saw properties searched in Cirencester and Swindon in September 2020.

Charges were authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service following an investigation by the Gloucestershire police’s Major Crime Investigation Team. 

Elliot Benham, aged 23, of Wingfield, Kingsdown in Swindon and Sophie Harvey, aged 23, of St Mary’s Road, Cirencester, have jointly been charged with the following:

  • Procuring a poison / noxious thing to cause a miscarriage, contrary to Section 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  • Concealing of the birth of a child, contrary to Section 60 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  • Committing an act with intent to pervert the course of public justice contrary to common law, namely disposing of the body of a baby

In addition to these, Harvey is also charged with procuring her own miscarriage by poison/use of instrument, contrary to Section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

The offences are alleged to have taken place between September 1, 2018 and December 1, 2018.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Specialist police officers searched a property in St Mary’s Road in the Beeches area of Cirencester in October 2020 Specialist police officers searched a property in St Mary’s Road in the Beeches area of Cirencester in October 2020 (Image: Newsquest)

Benham and Harvey were released on bail to attend Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, January 5.

Searches had taken place at locations in Swindon and Cirencester in September 2020 in connection with the investigation, and this was widely reported at the time.

In England, abortions are legal up to 24 weeks’ gestation if carried out by a registered medical practitioner, and can be carried out after 24 weeks in very limited circumstances.

The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 states it is a criminal offence to try to cause your own abortion.

It is alleged in this case that the pregnancy was past 24 weeks and was not carried out by a registered medical practitioner.​

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