Content analysis of infanticide and neonaticide cases in the UK

Katie Greenwood, John Synnott, Maria Ioannou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Twenty cases, 14 infanticides and 6 neonaticides committed between 1989 and 2020 by biological mothers were analysed using Smallest Space Analysis for the presence of themes. Three themes associated with offender motivation were identified: Desperation, Disturbance and Rejection. Desperation theme included variables suggesting the mother committed the crime as a result of distress or perceived necessity. Disturbance suggested the motivation behind the offence to be as a result of the mother's caregiving role being disturbed; and the Rejection theme explained complete maternal rejection of the infant or new-born as the motivation behind the crime. Alongside the themes, three core variables were identified to be common for the crime regardless of motivation: the crime being committed at Home, the victim Female, and the crime being Denied by the mother. The implications of the findings are discussed including the potential for an investigative support tool and developing understandings of neonaticide and infanticide as separate crimes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-134
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Issue number2
Early online date22 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


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