June 12, 2015
Rebecca Minnock's mum and partner jailed for lying over missing mum

The grandmother of missing Ethan Williams and her boyfriend have been jailed for contempt of court after lying about the toddler's disappearance.

Judge Stephen Wildblood at Bristol Crown Court said on Friday he "could not possibly" avoid imposing a prison sentence on Louise Minnock, 52, and Andrew Butt, 56.

Mrs Minnock's daughter, Rebecca Minnock, 35, fled her home in Highbridge with three-year-old Ethan two weeks ago.

The pair vanished on the day Miss Minnock was due to hand her only child over to his father, Roger Williams, following a court order.

She has defied orders by Judge Wildblood to come forward, as well as direct appeals from police and family members appearing before the courts.

Mrs Minnock and Mr Butt were jailed for 10 and 28 days respectively for lying to police and withholding "crucial" information which would find Ethan.

Judge Wildblood told Butt: "Yesterday I said that I was in no doubt that you know precisely where Rebecca Minnock and Ethan Williams went that day because you conveyed them both to their destination in your motor car that morning."

"Today you have admitted taking mother and child to Cheltenham but you have continued to lie about where in Cheltenham you took them."

"You know how important it is that Ethan and Rebecca Minnock are found. They cannot remain in hiding for ever and you know that they will found in the very near future."

"In the meantime Ethan is not receiving the stability and care that he should. Further, you know how serious it is that orders have been made for Ethan to live with his father and that those orders are being thwarted by Rebecca's deliberate disobedience, a disobedience that you have assisted."

"You are also well aware of the injustice that is being occasioned to Roger Williams, Ethan's father, and the consequent hardship that is being caused to him and others."

Butt was found to be in contempt of court during his evidence yesterday and asked to be sworn back into the witness box to change his account today.

The long distance lorry driver swore an oath on the Bible – unlike yesterday when he chose to affirm – before admitting that he had been helped Miss Minnock flee with Ethan.

He met Miss Minnock the night before her disappearance and the pair hatched a plot for her to flee with her son instead of attending a family court hearing.

"She said 'I've got no choice'," he told the court.

Butt collected Miss Minnock and Ethan on May 27th and drove them to the Asda store in Highbridge where she withdrew £300 at 8.17am.

He claims to have dropped Miss Minnock and Ethan at a junction in Whaddon Road in Cheltenham without knowing where they were going next.

The judge said: "You have deliberately withheld a vital piece of the investigative jigsaw; you did so because you know that that piece of the jigsaw would be of material assistance in finding them.

Outside court, Butt's solicitor Iona Philips read a letter he had written to Miss Minnock before being taken to the cells.

It read: "Becky you need to seriously look at the situation. It's only going to get worse not just for you but for all of us. But there are some very good people who will help and support you. I have been with them today and I know. We have made our point. You have got our support. Come home."

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