Mum’s fear after Liverpool hospital bomber tried to ‘take baby away from her’


Helen Edwards-Hughes, 34, from Liverpool, was admitted to the Crown Street maternity hospital on November 9, just days before Emad Al-Swealmeen tried to bomb the hospital

A first-time mum was already “frightened beyond her wildest dreams” after a difficult labour when a terrorist targeted the hospital she was in with a bomb.

Helen Edwards-Hughes, 34, a civil servant from Liverpool, was admitted to the Crown Street maternity hospital on November 9, just days before Emad Al-Swealmeen tried to bomb the hospital.

Counter Terrorism police believe Al-Swealmeen’s horrific plan was foiled when the home-made bomb he was carrying triggered prematurely, killing him.

Helen said the whole ordeal made her look at her newborn child Penelope, and say to her “someone came and tried to take you away.”

Helen had been taken in by her husband, 33-year-old James Hughes, after reporting cramping and bleeding, and doctors decided to perform a Caesarean section in the early hours of November 10, the Liverpool ECHO reports.

Helen said her child Penelope’s heart rate was up and her temperature was raised, both signs of infection, so after a few minutes with her mum and dad she was whisked away to begin treatment.

Things became even more frightening when a consultant told Helen they were going to treat Penelope for suspected meningitis.

Helen told the ECHO: “I was scared beyond my wildest dreams quite honestly. It was quite hard; because of covid visiting was a lot more limited for partners.

“When the incident happened I was in the hospital on my own.

“I was towards the front of the hospital but because I was recovering from a caesarean section I was on the bed and I couldn’t see the front entrance.

“I think I was feeding Penelope when I heard the bang go off. I just thought ‘oh, that’s a loud noise’ but it is really near town and I didn’t really give it any thought.

“But then things started going round; someone’s partner had been at the front entrance and had seen the car.

“Then there was all sorts of other stuff.

“Then it started to filter through that it was being treated as terrorism. There were so many police outside which was kind of reassuring.

“But I have quite serious anxiety and my one of my top triggers is terrorism, so it really sent me over the edge.

“Whenever something happens like that, like the attacks in Europe or the Manchester bombing, I find it very difficult to switch off from, and then there was a terrorist outside the hospital where my little girl is and I can’t leave.

“It was very hard to look at Penelope and think ‘someone came and tried to take you away’.”

Penelope, called Penny by her doting parents, made a full recovery from her infection and mum and baby were discharged on November 20

Helen has been able to access counselling after a referral from the perinatal mental health midwife team.

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