WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A Samoan woman who secretly gave birth on an international flight then dumped the baby in a bathroom garbage bin was convicted Thursday of child abandonment and ordered deported from New Zealand.
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Karolaine Maika, a 29-year-old seasonal worker, gave birth without anyone noticing in the bathroom of a Pacific Blue flight from her home country to Auckland, New Zealand, on March 19.
Cleaners found the baby girl still alive after the flight landed.
Maika pleaded guilty to a child abandonment charge in Manukau District Court on Thursday. Police withdrew a charge of assaulting the baby, saying that injuries the infant sustained were caused during the birth.
Judge Heather Simpson convicted Maika on the abandonment charge and ordered her deportation to Samoa. Maika could have been sentenced to a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.
Maika's lawyer, Elaine Ward, told the court her client had told no one about her pregnancy because it was considered shameful in Samoan society to be an unwed mother.
In sentencing, Simpson said she took into account that Maika was not aware that she was in labor before she boarded the flight.
Maika was returning to New Zealand to work as a kiwi fruit-picker when her daughter was born.
Maika's baby on Thursday remained in the care of the New Zealand government welfare agency, but police Detective Sgt. Mark Gutry said the child would also likely be sent to Samoa, where Maika already has another child.
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