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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Second breastfeeding woman asked to remove crying baby from Victorian court

A woman has been asked to leave a Victorian county court while breastfeeding an unsettled baby days after a judge ejected another woman.

The judge’s move last week drew ire after he said the breastfeeding “will be a distraction for the jury at the very least”.

“Madam, you will not be permitted to breastfeed a baby in court,” Mark Gamble told the woman last week. “I’m sorry. I will have to ask you to leave.”

On Tuesday a second woman brought her crying baby into court as the trial resumed.

The woman left the courtroom when the defence barrister, Ian Hill KC, asked her to take the infant outside but did leave.

She returned while Gamble was speaking to lawyers about what to do.

“The lady concerned has just exposed her breast and is breastfeeding the baby in court as we speak,” Gamble said. “You might want to have a look behind you so you can gauge what we’re dealing with.”

Hill said her presence would be distracting during his closing remarks in the trial.

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The prosecutor, Justin Lewis, agreed but said his chief concern was “the unsettled nature of the baby”.

Gamble said allowing the woman and the crying baby to remain would be distracting to jurors, which was unfair on them and on prosecutors.

“Madam, I’m sorry, but I am going to have to ask you to leave the court with your baby,” he said. “Thank you.”

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