A date has been set for the trial of a Swindon man and Cirencester woman accused of using poison to carry out an illegal abortion and hiding the evidence.

A High Court judge confirmed on Wednesday that 24-year-olds Elliot Benham, of Kingsdown in Swindon, and Sophie Harvey, of St Mary’s Road in Cirencester, will be brought before Gloucester Crown Court on May 13 to face trial for four charges.

The pair are alleged to have obtained poisonous drugs from India and used them to cause Harvey to miscarry before concealing the dead infant.

At previous hearings, their defence suggested it may be calling medical evidence on behalf of Harvey about the condition autoimmune hypothyroidism, known as Hashimoto's Disease, which can lead to problems during pregnancy that can affect both mother and baby and increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

But at the hearing on March 20, Thomas Godfrey, representing Harvey, said he would not be presenting any medical evidence to the court and that the defence team was now ‘trial ready’.

The charges the two defendants face are as follows:

- Procuring poison to be used with intent to procure a miscarriage, in that between September 1 and 18, 2018, they procured Misoprostol and Mifepristone knowing that this was intended to be unlawfully used to procure Sophie Harvey to have a miscarriage.

- Administering poison with intent to procure a miscarriage, in that between September 22 and October 1, 2018, Ms Harvey unlawfully administered Mifepristone to herself with intent to procure her own miscarriage.

- Perverting the course of public justice by disposing of a baby between September 22 and October 1, 2018.

- Endeavouring to conceal the birth of a child, in that between September 22 and December 1, 2018, they endeavoured to conceal the birth of a child which Ms Harvey had delivered.

Benham and Harvey have been released on bail until the start of their trial.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Mr Justice Saini said the trial would be held in Gloucestershire.

Prosecutor Anna Vigars KC suggested that the case should be heard in Gloucester because of the impracticalities of holding trials in the former Cirencester magistrates court with three barristers and their support teams in such a confined space.

Mr Justice Saini agreed: “It’s not an ideal court as the jury will generally see the backs of the barrister’s heads in Cirencester.

"However, when defendants are not in custody the use of the Cirencester Courthouse should rightly be explored.”