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Mother in hiding with toddler son after court rules he should live with his father

A mother has gone on the run with her three-year-old son after a judge ruled the boy should live with his father, it has emerged.

Rebecca Minnock, aged 35, disappeared from her home in Highbridge, Somerset, with her son Ethan two weeks ago.

In a highly unusual step, a judge today ruled the media should be able to report the full facts of the case in a bid to help track them down.

Rebecca Minnock is missing with her son Ethan Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

It comes after a hearing at Bristol Crown Court when Miss Minnock's brother, Marvin Shaw, her sister Limmie Shaw, and mother Louise Minnock all swore they did not know where Rebecca and Ethan were, and said they could not contact them.

But Judge Stephen Wildblood QC said he was "deeply suspicious" of their story, warning them that the longer they remain missing, the worse the situation will be once found.

He adjourned the case after ordering them to speak out if they receive any information on the pair's whereabouts.

Ethan has lived with his mother since his parents' separation in February 2013, with a magistrates order that his father, Roger Williams, should be allowed contact.

This arrangement broke down, and in the 18 months since, the court heard, Miss Minnock had made a number of allegations against her former partner.

These were rejected by a district judge, who in February of this year found they had been "fabricated" in order to deliberately "frustrate contact" between Ethan and his father.

After that hearing, Ethan began spending four nights a week with Mr Williams and three with his mother.

Miss Minnock is believed to have travelled to Cheltenham from her home in Highbridge, Somerset Credit: Google Maps

A child psychiatrist, Dr Mark Berelowitz, found the youngster had a "warm relationship" with both parents - but, as Miss Minnock continued to "extensively" quiz him over the possible allegations, he recommended Ethan should live with his father and have supervised contact with his mother.

A social worker and a guardian supported his view.

A hearing was scheduled to take place on May 27, but has not been seen since 8.17am that morning, when she was seen at the Asda in Highbridge withdrawing cash.

She was then driven away in a black Ford Focus, headed in the direction of Cheltenham, where members of her family live.

Her mother told the court she believes her daughter "panicked". She said she had had enough of being failed .I said 'you have to be strong'.

She knew what was going to happen in court.

I thought it was disgraceful. She did say she was frightened. She said she wasn't looking forward to it.

I think she has panicked and couldn't take it," she added. "It's a hard thing to come to court.

– Louise Minnock, mother and grandmother

She said neither Rebecca nor Ethan could be found in Cheltenham, adding: "I miss them terribly."

At the Bristol hearing, the judge found that Miss Minnock had exposed Ethan to "emotional harm".

Her family said they would encourage her to appeal the ruling that Ethan should live with his father, insisting she had been "failed" by the authorities.

I just don't understand how the psychiatrist's report, the social services report came back that she was a good mother, she didn't have a mental disorder but they have still continued to want to take the child from her.

That is a massive injustice.

I think she can't flee forever, you are going to find her eventually. I don't think she has had a fair hearing by any means.

– Marvin Shaw, brother and uncle

Mr Shaw added that he had received three short phone calls from his sister from a withheld number assuring him that they were both safe.

Anyone with any information on their whereabouts is urged to call Avon and Somerset Police on 101.

Miss Minnock is described as white, 5ft 3ins tall and with dark, wavy hair. Ethan has blond hair and blue eyes.

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