Saturday 3 December 2016

Mother of mum-on run with son (3) jailed after lying about toddler's disappearance

Claire Hayhurst and Rod Minchin

Published 12/06/2015 | 11:37

Rebecca Minnock and her three-year-old son Ethan Credit: Avon & Somerset Police/PA Wire
Rebecca Minnock and her three-year-old son Ethan Credit: Avon & Somerset Police/PA Wire

Louise Minnock - the grandmother of missing Ethan Williams - has been jailed at Bristol Crown Court for 10 days and her partner Andrew Butt for 28 days after they lied repeatedly about the toddler's disappearance.

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Earlier today, Judge Stephen Wildblood QC assured missing mother Rebecca Minnock about future access to her son Ethan after her friend Andrew Butt admitted at Bristol Crown Court that he had helped her flee to avoid handing the boy over to his father.

The 35-year-old mother fled her home in Highbridge, Somerset, with son two weeks ago following a court order that he should live with his father, Roger Williams.

She has since contacted a number of newspapers to say she fled because she felt "trapped" and that while she has thought about giving herself up, each time she looks at her son she thinks she "can't do that".

Police hunting for the pair today have made a direct appeal to Rebecca, saying: "You cannot keep on hiding forever."

Detective Chief Inspector Marie Wright, of Avon and Somerset Police, recorded a two-and-half-minute direct appeal to Miss Minnock and placed it on You Tube - urging the mother-of-one to give herself up.

"Hello Becky, my name's Marie Wright and you may have seen me on the telly or listened to me on the radio doing some media interviews," the detective said.

"I am trying to get in touch with you and trying to sort out what's happening with you and also about Ethan.

"We know what you're doing in the best for Ethan because obviously you're his mum and you're thinking about what is best for him and doing what any mum would in the fact that you believe you are really protecting him.

"But I know you have been talking to the media and talking to The Sun and the Daily Mail yesterday and you talked about how you wanted Ethan to come home and have contact with his nanny, with his pets and play in his garden.

"I think that is the best possible outcome and idea and get Ethan home as soon as he can.

"You said you think you will be in a huge amount of trouble for what you've done but I want to make sure that you and Ethan are safe and we need to reach a solution that's best for you both.

"I know you are going to be under a huge amount of emotional pressure and strain and I want you to come to the right decision about you and Ethan and I know you said to the papers that you 'want to hand yourself in', I think is the phrase you used.

Read more: On-the-run mother in custody battle fled with son (3) as she felt 'trapped'

"What I would like to do is talk to you about how we can do that later because I am more than happy to speak to you on the phone and we can work out what is the best way to get you and Ethan back to having some sort of normal life.

"You don't have to carry on hiding, there is always a solution and a way forward and we can help you through this.

"If you don't want to contact the police then please think about contacting the Missing People charity. They have got your details and they know who you are because I have made personal contact with them.

"If you do want to call us, please call us either on 999 or 101 and there are people in those departments that have got my personal number which I am more than happy to talk to you personally about how we can work this through.

"Please can you get in touch one way or another and let's start talking.

"We know you are looking after Ethan, we know he's safe and well but you cannot keep on hiding forever Becky.

"Please get in touch we really want to help you. Thank you."

The police appeal comes as Andrew Butt, 56, the partner of Miss Minnock's mother, is sentenced after being found by Judge Stephen Wildblood QC to have told "a string of lies" in relation to his knowledge of the disappearance.

The lorry driver has been warned that he faces prison and is appearing at Bristol Crown Court.

Miss Minnock called The Sun earlier this week and has since contacted the Daily Mail, insisting that she and her son are "doing really well".

She said she knows what she has done is wrong and realises she cannot stay in hiding forever.

She told the Mail: "I'm very realistic, I know I will be caught and he'll be taken from me."

Butt was interviewed by police and first insisted he had last seen Miss Minnock on May 26, the day before she went missing.

He later admitted he had given her a lift to a cashpoint in Highbridge before taking her to a One Stop shop in the town.

Detective Constable Anthony Davis told the court Butt told him: "Me and my family would all rather do 10 years in prison rather than tell you where they are."

The judge said: "I have no doubt that Mr Butt has told a string of lies.

"The only reason for him to have done so is that he knows precisely where Rebecca and Ethan went that morning because he took them to Cheltenham himself in his motor car.

"That information is plainly essential to this inquiry and to the implementation of the collection order.

"For failing to tell the truth about the events of that morning, Mr Butt plainly acted in breach of the terms of that order.

"I find, Andrew Butt, that you have acted in breach of the collection order. I intend to sentence you in breach of the collection order."

Police described Miss Minnock as 5ft 3in tall and of medium build, with dark, wavy shoulder-length hair. Ethan is of small build with blond hair and blue eyes.

Ethan, who was born on January 25 2012, has lived with his mother since his parents separated in February 2013.

A custody battle began the next month. During the May 27 hearing this year, a judge said Ethan should live with Mr Williams and have supervised contact with his mother

A family friend of a Somerset mother on the run with her three-year-old son will be sentenced after a judge said he had been "utterly untruthful" about their disappearance.

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