Map of where the baby was found. The drain where the baby was found at Quakers Hill.
Found: the boy was down the drain for six days. Photo: Supplied
It was an unmistakable sound in the most unexpected of locations.
“I’ve got two kids of my own, so I know what a baby screaming sounds like,” Rydalmere resident David Otte said.
But the father of two said it was “unbelievable” to find a newborn boy down a western Sydney stormwater drain along a Quakers Hill bike path next to the M7 on Sunday.
The discovery sparked a police search for the boy’s mother – identified later as a 30-year-old Quakers Hill woman – and calls for the public to withhold judgment until it became clear what had led to the baby being abandoned.
Police on Sunday night confirmed the mother had been charged with attempted murder in relation to the incident.
Police believe the baby was born last Monday and placed in the drain on Tuesday, six days before it was found.
Mr Otte said he had been cycling with his daughter Hayley when at about 7.30am they were flagged down by two men who had heard an unusual noise coming from a drain in unkempt grass 150 metres from Quakers Road.
“It was so intense. You couldn’t not tell it was a baby,” Mr Otte said. “We couldn’t see it but we could hear it.It was distressed.”
It took about seven people to lift the concrete lid off the drain so police could retrieve the boy, who was described as malnourished, dehydrated and just a few days old.
The baby’s umbilical cord had been cut and clamped. He was wrapped in what appeared to be a striped hospital-issue blanket.
“We were going to get that lid off no matter what it took,” Mr Otte said. “Physically, no one could have fit themselves down into that drain. A child maybe but not an adult, no way in the world.”
The baby, who was taken to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in a serious but stable condition, was believed to have been pushed through a narrow gap below the lid, before falling 2.5 metres. Police said on Monday the baby was in a stable condition.
Inspector David Lagats, from Quakers Hill, said police would have had grave fears for the child’swelfare if he had remained undiscovered for much longer.
The temperature soared above 45 Celsius in parts of western Sydney as the day wore on.
‘It’s a horrific incident, but with all the team work from the bystanders, too, it was a good result and hopefully the child will survive,” Inspector Lagatssaid.
There were unconfirmed reports a man of Indian appearancewearing an orange shirt was seen on the cycle track soon after the baby was discovered, he said.
By early afternoon, checks of recent hospital births and doorknocking of the local area had led police to the newborn’s mother, who had given birth at Blacktown Hospital.
Department of Family and Community Services western Sydney district director Lisa Charet saidsuch incidents were rare.
But post-natal depression, or young mothers who did not know where to turn for help, had been factors in previous cases, she said.
“I think you have to be in a fairly desperate place to commit this sort of act,” she said before the mother was located.
Andrew McCallum, from the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies, urged people to withhold judgment until the circumstances surrounding the incident were clear.
“And even then there’s usually a lot of other factors involved in these things,” Mr McCallumsaid.
Police said investigations into the incident were ongoing.
“You go through life seeing things but you never, ever imagine you’ll see something like this,” Mr Otte said.
“That baby had no chance if we and the other people hadn’t been there. Something made us find that baby today.”