Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
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Runaway mother Rebecca Minnock was ‘utterly irresponsible’, says judge
A mum who went missing for 17 days with her three-year-old son following a custody battle has been reprimanded by a judge as being “utterly irresponsible”.
Rebecca Minnock and relatives tried to manipulate the press with a “publicity stunt”, Judge Stephen Wildblood said.
The mum-of-one handed herself in on Friday after more than two weeks on the run with her three-year-old son Ethan.
The 35-year-old sparked a nationwide search when she vanished on May 27, after being told by a judge she would have to hand her son over to the boy’s father, Roger Williams.
In a family court hearing, Judge Wildblood QC described the disappearance as an “irresponsible and unfair publicity stunt”.
The same judge last week jailed Rebecca’s mum Louise and her mum’s partner, Andrew Butt, for hiding information about her whereabouts.
Judge Wildblood spoke in open court on Monday before he held a private hearing about Ethan’s future.
He said: “Huge amounts of time, effort and money were spent on the case and it is simply unfair for a party to attempt to use the press in an attempt to deny another person justice.
“Not only is it absurd for anyone to try to ‘play the press’ in that way, because that inevitably backfires, but it is also an utterly irresponsible way to behave from the point of view of the welfare of a child.”
He said that during the two-year custody battle between Ms Minnock and Ethan’s father, it had “been found that the mother positively invented allegations against the father on two occasions”.
He added: “The father has not at any time embarked on anything like the publicity stunt in which the mother’s family has engaged.”
Ethan was reunited with his father on Friday evening.
The judge also revealed the father could help to decide whether the Miss Minnock is jailed.
Mr Williams, 39, will be able to say whether he thinks Miss Minnock should face further legal proceedings for defying two court orders.
Judge Wildblood has given Mr Williams until Wednesday to make the decision.
The judge said: “I will give further consideration to this issue of contempt once the parties (in this case) have decided upon the positions that they take.
“I think that the father, in particular, has a right to reflect on this.”
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