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  • Mum to give birth in jail
  • By Janet Fife-Yeomans
  • The Daily Telegraph
  • 08/11/2007 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 59 articles in 2007 )
A seven months pregnant mother has been jailed by the Family Court and faces the prospect of giving birth behind bars.

The woman, 32, was at the centre of a nationwide alert after snatching her five-year-old daughter and going into hiding for 16 months after the father defied court orders over medical treatment for the girl.

It is the latest in a string of jail sentences handed down by the Family Court and Federal Magistrates' Court in controversial cases as the courts get tough on wayward parents.

The woman's mother said yesterday that the family was devastated.

"She was protecting her daughter. She is a really good mother," she said.

Latest figures reveal that between January 2004 and December 2006, 10 people were jailed by the Family Court for failing to comply with a court order.

More mothers than fathers breach court orders. A Family Law Council study from 1998 found nearly 70 per cent of those who breach court orders are women.

The woman at the centre of the latest case was last night in maximum security at Dillwynia jail, while the girl is with her father in Queensland.

The Family Court sitting in Sydney yesterday ordered the father to bring the daughter to Sydney to visit her mother in jail.

"To her credit she admitted she had breached court orders but she had a real and live belief that she had a good reason for doing so," lawyer Nabil Wahhab said.

The couple separated when their daughter was two and she initially lived with her mother.

It was agreed the father would gradually spend more time with the girl with a view to sharing custody.

Because the mother claimed her ex-husband was sexually assaulting the girl, the Family Court ordered the girl should only visit a doctor agreed to by both parents.

The court ordered that the mother automatically lose custody if she breached the orders.

In November 2005, she snatched her daughter from a childcare centre after learning the father had taken her to his own doctor suffering from a urinary tract infection.

A month later the court granted the father full custody, so the mother put the child in the car and drove as far as she could - to Perth.

In April she was arrested by six Australian Federal Police agents.

Unknown to her, she was already pregnant to her new partner.

Judicial registrar Bill Johnson jailed her for six months but suspended the sentence from January 23, when she will be released on a two-year good behaviour bond.

She is due to give birth on January 27.


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