The abduction spanned over a four-month period during which the Defendant sought to evade social services and parallel family proceedings, involving her son. This included the Defendant travelling to and remaining for a period in the Republic of Ireland. She was arrested upon her return to the UK.
An acceptable basis of plea was agreed and presented to the Court shortly before the trial was due to take place, nearly two years after the abduction.
There are no sentencing guidelines for child abduction cases, so the Court was taken to recent authorities in establishing where the case fell in terms of parameters of sentence. In particular the question for the Court was whether the term of imprisonment it intended to impose on the Defendant should be suspended or not. It was accepted that the custody threshold had been crossed, given the nature and facts of the case.
By the time of sentencing the Defendant was pregnant with her third child. The Court was persuaded to take into account the legal principles contained in R v Petherick  1 W.L.R. 1102 and was also asked to consider the Article 8 ECHR rights of the Defendant’s young children. It was these guiding principles that persuaded the Court to eventually impose a suspended sentence as opposed to immediate custody.