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Australian water polo star jailed for killing baby

15 april 2011, 10:59
Photo courtesy of www.perthnow.com.au
Photo courtesy of www.perthnow.com.au
A talented Australian water polo player accused of killing her baby daughter to focus on competing at the Sydney Olympics was Friday jailed for 18 years for murdering the infant, AFP reports.

Keli Lane, 35, was found guilty in December of killing newborn Tegan -- the result of a pregnancy she had kept secret from her partner, family and teammates -- in September 1996.

Lane had maintained her innocence, saying she had handed the child to its father shortly after the birth and never seen it again, but New South Wales Supreme Court Justice Anthony Whealy accepted she killed the girl.

Whealy said "golden girl" Lane, who represented Australia as a junior water polo player, had been desperate when she murdered the baby, whose remains have never been found.

"The present case may properly be seen, in every sense, as a tragedy involving mother and daughter," he said, Australian news agency AAP reported.

The fact that Lane had destroyed the natural relationship between mother and daughter would haunt her for the rest of her life, Whealy said as he set a maximum term of 18 years, with a non-parole period of 13 years and five months.

Lane has always argued she gave the baby to its father, an Andrew Morris or Andrew Norris, with whom she had had a brief and secret affair, shortly after the hospital birth.

But prosecutors argued she killed the child, her second, because it stood in the way of her sporting and social ambitions, including representing Australia in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Her four-month jury trial heard that Lane had adopted out the children from her first and third pregnancies, which she had also kept secret, and had terminated two other pregnancies.

Questions about Tegan first emerged when a social worker raised concerns with welfare officials after dealing with Lane during the adoption of her youngest child.

Lane was not charged with murder until 2009, after major search for Tegan.

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