Couple jailed as police hunt for their baby

Police hunting for the newborn child of a paedophile said last night that they believed the baby was being kept in Thailand.

Police hunting for the newborn child of a paedophile said last night that they believed the baby was being kept in Thailand.

The six-week-old infant's parents, Andrew Milton and his Thai-born wife Sakunna, were each jailed for six months on Thursday for refusing to reveal its whereabouts. However, following interviews in prison, officers said they now believed the baby was with a member of its mother's family in Thailand.

Social services have been granted permission to take the child into care because Milton, a 38-year-old businessman from Wellington, Somerset, is believed to pose a grave threat to its safety.

In a dramatic confrontation at the High Court in Taunton, Judge Cotterill had told Mrs Milton, through an interpreter: "Your husband is a paedophile. The court considers your husband to be a great danger to children." The judge explained that she might be allowed custody of her child if she cooperated with the authorities.

When the 23-year old continued to withhold information, Judge Cotterill jailed the couple and then took the unusual step of identifying the child by naming its parents yesterday. He also issued a Section 50 order which means that anyone with information about the baby must contact the police or face prosecution themselves. Milton is not believed to be on the Sex Offenders Register or to have been convicted of a previous paedophile offence.

Judge Cotterill made his statement that he was a paedophile in a civil court, which can reach a judgment based on the "balance of probabilities" rather than "beyond reasonable doubt". The court had heard evidence that police officers had found pornographic CD-roms and e-mails relating to Milton's sexual exploits with young females on previous visits to Thailand during a search of his home.

Milton was described by a neighbour, who asked not to be named, as a quiet man. She said: "I've seen him around a few times with his wife and he seemed quite a nice chap, but he kept himself to himself."

Fears were first raised about the baby when Mrs Milton, who is only believed to have lived in Britain for seven months, was reported missing during her pregnancy in May. Following a police appeal, and reports that the couple had gone into hiding, the Miltons returned to Wellington at the beginning of July without their baby.

However, police have found a photograph of the mother with a baby and are working on the assumption that the child, aged about six weeks, is alive.

Judge Cotterill has granted Somerset County Council two orders to help their investigation into the Miltons. The first gives them access to travel-company records to discover if the couple have returned to Thailand since the birth of the child. The second allows them to examine computer equipment seized from their home in Wellington from where Mr Milton runs a furniture business.

Abuse of young boys and girls is rampant in Thailand and the country is a favourite destination for Western paedophiles. In November a Briton, Robert Errol Woods, was jailed for 42 years by the Thai authorities for abusing homeless boys but other Britons have escaped punishment by paying off their victims' families.

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