THE parents of an abandoned baby boy left him in the doorway of Carlow Cathedral because they feared they would kill him if he stayed in their care.
According to sources in Britain – where they live – the eight-month-old’s father is suffering from depression.
He is said to have been heard threatening that he was going to kill the baby, the baby’s mother and then himself.
The couple are believed to be distraught over custody and access issues and took the child while on an arranged access visit to the baby’s legal guardian.
However, it now appears they had a change of heart after they took the child from its home in Ashfield, in Nottinghamshire.
Instead, they jumped on a ferry and arrived in Ireland – making their way to Carlow town, where they decided to abandon the boy on Friday evening.
He was found by a local woman – in his buggy, with a piece of paper detailing his full name and date of birth – at the entrance to the Cathedral of the Assumption.
She immediately told cathedral staff, and then contacted the gardaí – who, in turn, contacted police in Britain .
The woman had first spotted the baby’s mother in tears in the porch of the cathedral and had approached, asking if she was okay.
The woman replied that she was but admitted she was leaving her child behind before hurrying away.
The couple, who are believed to have arrived in Ireland early on Friday morning, are now believed to be back in Britain .
The baby boy, who had been reported missing from Ashfield at 11am on Thursday, is not due to be returned to his legal guardian until Monday at the earliest.
Meanwhile, he remains in the care of HSE officials and there are moves to ensure a care order is made by British authorities.
A source close to the investigation told the Irish Mail on Sunday last night: ‘This is a very sad case and is a family matter that has gone very, very wrong.
‘Thankfully, the parents had a change of mind about their plans and the baby is safe.’
British authorities remain concerned about the welfare of the baby’s parents are waiting to question them in detail when – or if – they arrive home.
Last night, a Garda spokesman said: ‘We’re happy enough that they’ve skipped back to England. Our enquiries suggest that the man and woman left Dublin Port this morning en route to Holyhead.’
A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said: ‘Police had worked extensively to locate the child and had already established that he may have been taken to Ireland when the Irish police confirmed that he had been found safe and well on the steps of a cathedral in Carlow.
‘There was a note attached to the boy giving his name and date of birth. The boy is now in the care of the authorities in Ireland and is expected to be reunited with his legal guardian next week.
‘We are now concerned for the welfare of the man and woman who are believed to have been involved in this incident.
‘Anyone with information is asked to ring Mansfield and Ashfield Police on 0044 300 300 9999.’
Fr John Cummins, the Administrator of the Cathedral Parish, said: ‘As I understand it, there were two women involved with finding the baby.
‘One of them met a couple who were in distress but I gather they left and another noticed the baby was on its own in the buggy and called the parish office.’
He added: ‘I wasn’t around at the time and I didn’t believe it when they rang me, to be honest.
‘I thought the parents must have just left the child for a few minutes at the doorway when they went up to light a candle or something.
‘I wasn’t expecting to hear that. It sounds like something that would have happened years ago.’ Fr Cummins added: ‘I don’t know anything about the people who left the child there but it just sounds like, for whatever reason, they couldn’t cope.
‘You hear about things like postnatal depression. I think it says a lot about the need to support young mothers and families.’