A mother’s decision to abscond following a recent unfavourable ruling in the Bristol Family Court led to a public outcry.
Ms Rebecca Minnock a mother of one made the headlines last month after fleeing to an undisclosed location with her three year old son Ethan. Ms Minnock vanished with Ethan, spending seventeen days on the run, saying she had lost faith in the system, after a ruling by a Circuit Judge that Ethan should live with his father, Roger Williams.
Due to the immense public interest in the case, Judge Wildblood was compelled to lift the usual secrecy concerning child cases in order to explain the ruling. A succession of judgments made on the case were published, documenting the reasons why Ethan was required to live apart from his mother. The judgments were widely featured in the national media.
In Roger Williams v Rebecca Minnock and Ethan Freeman Williams (by his guardian) Case no: VS1P00027, Judge Wildblood stated that Ms Minnock and her family had attempted to manipulate the press in a “singularly unattractive way” when the case took a turn against her.
During the seventeen days the press aided the search for Ms Minnock, something the judge openly praised. Ms Minnock turned herself in after her mother and a family friend refused to admit her whereabouts and were jailed for contempt of court.
According to the judge, throughout the case Ms Minnock had not only defied court orders but had made allegations against Ethan’s father in an attempt to thwart his contact, the allegations later being disproved by a thorough investigation.
The judge also shared that Ethan’s father had spent the last two years under “immense emotional and financial stress” fighting off Ms Minnock’s false allegations and affirmed that this needed to be taken into consideration.
The judge described Ms Minnock’s antics as “utterly irresponsible” and although he said it was clear she loved her son it was found that earlier in the year she had harmed Ethan emotionally and should only be permitted supervised contact with him.
Further hearings following Ms Minnock absconding are expected. Judge Wildblood concluded he would do all he could to ensure that Ethan had contact with both his parents as they both displayed their love and care for him