Somerset

Missing mother Rebecca Minnock and son Ethan found safe

Rebecca Minnock and Ethan Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption Rebecca Minnock and Ethan disappeared two weeks ago

A mother and her three-year-old son have been found safe and well two weeks after going missing, police have said.

Rebecca Minnock, 35, from Highbridge, Somerset, disappeared with her son Ethan on 27 May after a court ruled the boy should live with his father.

Speaking to the Daily Mail before she handed herself in, Ms Minnock said she hoped the decision about her son would now be reconsidered.

Police said the mother and son "will now receive the support they need".

Det Ch Insp Marie Wright, of Avon and Somerset police, said Ms Minnock handed herself in "in the Oxford area".

"This is the news we had been hoping for and I am grateful to Becky for coming forward," she said.

Ms Minnock told the Mail she decided to hand herself in because Ethan wanted to see her family and to sleep in his own bed.

"I've seen the amount of support I've had from neighbours, family and friends and I'm just hoping that somebody will be able to help us to get this case looked into again."

She said she made the "huge decision" to go into hiding because she felt "trapped".

"I just couldn't hand him over," she added.

Image copyright Family handout via PA
Image caption A court ruled that Ethan should live with his father Roger Williams

Nicholas Cusworth QC, a family law barrister, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Ms Minnock's decision to breach the court order would be taken into "very serious consideration" in future legal proceedings.

"I assume that Ethan will go to live with his father with immediate effect and the court will have to decide how to take forward the relationship he has with both his parents," he said.

"In circumstances where the court makes an order designed to protect the best interest of a child, for one of that child's parents to undermine that court order deliberately... inevitably will mean the well of trust the court has towards her is going to be at a low ebb at the moment.

"It'll be up to her to demonstrate that she can be trusted in future."

Ms Minnock has been engaged in a two-year legal battle with Ethan's father Roger Williams over contact with their son.

In February, a district judge found she had fabricated allegations against Mr Williams in order to "frustrate contact" between him and Ethan.

A social worker reported that Ethan was not "emotionally safe" with his mother, and Ethan had been staying with his father four nights a week since February.

Earlier on Friday, Ethan's grandmother was sentenced to 10 days in prison for lying in court about the pair's disappearance.

Louise Minnock, 52, was convicted of contempt of court for hiding the fact they were driven to Cheltenham by her partner Andrew Butt, who was jailed for 28 days for contempt.

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