She Stole a Baby in 1997, Is Finally Sentenced for the Crime

Woman who took Zephany Nurse sentenced to 10 years
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2016 6:03 AM CDT
Updated Aug 15, 2016 6:21 AM CDT
She Stole a Baby in 1997, Is Finally Sentenced for the Crime
Morne and Celeste Nurse, right, the biological parents of kidnapped baby Zephany Nurse, embrace each other after court proceedings in Cape Town.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

The incredible saga of Zephany Nurse has reached its end: The South African woman found guilty of snatching a 3-day-old Zephany from her sleeping mother's hospital room in 1997 has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors had sought 15, reports Reuters. Judge John Hlophe had harsh words for the 51-year-old, who has not been named so as not to reveal the identity she gave to Zephany: "One would have expected you to apologize but you chose not to. It's also very clear you have caused much harm to Zephany. You have actually betrayed her‚" Times Live quotes him as saying. The BBC reports Hlophe also cited the birthday celebrations the Nurses held each year for their absent daughter, which were covered by the press and meant it was clear the family was still looking for her.

She had "all the time in the world" to return Zephany, he said, but she obviously did not, the BBC reports. The woman maintained a lady named Sylvia "handed a baby" to her on April 30, 1997, at a train station as part of a prearranged adoption; Hlophe said the "court rejects [that story] with the contempt it deserves," reports the BBC. After South African schoolkids noticed a physical resemblance between two girls, a DNA test in 2015 revealed that one of them was Zephany and the other her younger sister. The unnamed woman, who lived just a few miles from Celeste and Morne Nurse, was arrested. IOL reports Zephany hasn't been allowed to see the woman who took her since the arrest; she continues to live with the woman's husband. Celeste and Morne have indicated the reunion has been a strained one. Read more on the case, and the eerie symbolism of Zephany's name, here. (More Zephany Nurse stories.)

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