drops case against Highbridge runaway mum Rebecca Minnock
Highbridge mother who went on the run with her three-year-old
son has been told she "owes her liberty" to the boy's
father after he dropped the case against her.
Minnock, 35, fled from her Highbridge home with Ethan on 27th
May, the same day that a judge ruled the boy should live with
his father, Roger Williams.
handed herself in on 12th June after a high-profile publicity
campaign to trace her.
judge said Mr Williams had dropped the case to avoid a continued
"glare of publicity" around Ethan.
Williams, who lives in Burnham, had begun committal proceedings
after Ms Minnock ignored two court orders concerning their son.
his barrister, Rupert Chapman, told the court the father now wanted
to withdraw the application for committal.
Stephen Wildblood QC said he would respect Mr Williams' wishes
but warned Ms Minnock that, had she been found guilty of contempt,
he would have sentenced her to at least 28 days in prison.
said: "Parents who flout court orders are the scourge of
the system. It is only the mercy of the father that spares this
than fleeing, Miss Minnock should have attended the custody hearing
on 27 May to argue her case, the judge said, and she could have
sought permission to appeal against the ruling.
actions had been "manipulative, attention seeking and truculent"
and had caused "immense distress to many" as well as
wasting "a large amount of public money".
Williams now wanted to "end the public displays of the difficulties
that affect Ethan's upbringing", the judge said.
owes her liberty to him. She must never fail to comply with court
Williams' lawyer said there had been a long history of breaches
of court orders by Miss Minnock but added: "In view of the
fact Ethan has been returned home to his care, and that he is
happy and settled at home and contact has been started, my client
wishes to draw a line under the previous breaches."
Minnock told the court she had only had one hour of supervised
contact with Ethan, which took place on Tuesday. She added: "My
big concern at the moment is, I got to see Ethan yesterday, if
I am going to go to prison what emotional damage is that going
to do on Ethan?"
she was in hiding her mother, Louise, 52, and mother's partner,
Andrew Butt, 56, were jailed for withholding information about
Ethan's disappearance - both have since been released.
going on the run, Miss Minnock had fought a two-year custody battle.
In February, a district judge found she had fabricated allegations
against her former partner in order to "frustrate contact"
between him and Ethan. On
27th May, it was ruled the boy should live with his father.