'Contact' mother must stay in jail

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The Independent Online
A mother jailed for repeatedly refusing to obey a court order for contact between her four-year-old daughter and her ex-partner must stay in prison, the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.

Judge William Poulton sent the 30-year-old woman to Holloway prison for six weeks at a hearing at Canterbury Combined Court on Thursday.

He enforced a suspended sentence order after she failed to take her daughter to an arranged contact meeting with the father. It was the eighth time a contact order had been made and disobeyed.

Appeal judge Lord Justice Ward said yesterday the mother insisted her ex-partner was not the child's father, but DNA profiling had proved he was.

"The stark reality is that this is a mother who has frequently set herself on a collision course with court orders," he said. "She has been given endless opportunities to comply, with sympathetic attempts by the judge to meet her flimsy objections to contact taking place. She has spurned all those attempts."

There had been "not a single word of regret" from the mother for her disobedience. Judge Poulton had bent over backwards to see her point of view, but "eventually even his boundless patience was exhausted".

The message had to go outthat there was a limit to the court's tolerance when orders were flouted.

Lord Justice Beldam said no court, except as a last resort and with the utmost reluctance, would make an order depriving a little girl of the care and emotional support of her mother.

"But in the end the court is faced with a situation in which it either has to yield to the obstinacy of the mother and back down from its own order, or it has to enforce it," he said.

The judge said it was up to the mother whether she continued to deprive her daughter and her child by another father - both now with foster parents while she is in prison - of her loving care.

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