Updated:
June 10, 2015
Police search widens for Highbridge mother and son 'on the run'

A Police search for a three-year-old boy and his mother from Highbridge has been widened, officers said today.

Rebecca Minnock, 35, and her son Ethan disappeared from their home in the town two weeks ago, as reported here.

They have gone missing after a court ruled the boy should live with his father.

A judge this week took the unusual step of lifting reporting restrictions in an effort to help the search for the pair.

Police said today (Wednesday) that the search for them has been widened to Birmingham and Gloucestershire after sightings there.

Meanwhile, crews from Burnham Coastguard and BARB searched for the pair overnight at nearby Berrow, as reported here.

Miss Minnock's brother, sister and mother were arrested on Sunday, accused of withholding information.

They were warned by Judge Stephen Wildblood QC they "must be entirely candid about any information that they have".

Speaking at Bristol Crown Court, he said: "We need to make sure this child is found. I have suspicions that you know more. If there is more to be learnt, it will be. You need to be aware of that."

He instructed the three relatives to inform police immediately if they received information about Ethan's location.

Miss Minnock is about 5ft 3ins tall, of medium build, with dark wavy shoulder-length hair, police said.

Ethan has blond hair and blue eyes. He has lived with his mother since his parents separated in February 2013, the court heard. A month later, his father Roger Williams applied for contact with him.

On 27th May this year, a district judge ruled Ethan should live with his father after finding Miss Minnock had allegedly made false allegations and obstructed contact between father and son.

The court heard Miss Minnock, who does not drive, was seen in Highbridge that day getting into a black Ford Focus being driven towards Cheltenham, where she has relatives.

Despite a police investigation and campaign by Ethan's father, they have not been found. Mrs Minnock told the court her daughter had been frightened ahead of the court hearing two weeks ago: "I think she has panicked and couldn't take it."

Mr Shaw, also from Highbridge, told the court he did not know where his sister was but she had telephoned him to say she and Ethan were "safe and well".

He said he believed the court order was a "serious injustice" and his sister had been "failed" by the authorities.

The judge told Mr Shaw: "They are, in effect, on the run. They can't claim benefits because if they do they will be found."

He released the three from the court at the conclusion of the hearing saying he was "not satisfied" he could commit them for contempt of court based on the evidence he had heard.

But he said further hearings were likely to take place, possibly involving friends and family of Miss Minnock and Ethan.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the mother and child are asked to contact the Police's Somerset investigations team on the force number 101, quoting reference MP2189/15.


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