'I'll Never Give Up On My Child'
Thur 7th Nov 2013, Yellow Advertiser
A BASILDON woman was ordered to surrender her son for adoption even though social services said she was taking good care of him.
The ruling was revealed last Friday when Michelle Kelly, 28, of Mellow Purgess Close, appeared at Basildon Magistrates Court to admit 'keeping away a child in care without lawful authority'.
Miss Kelly fled to Scotland after a judge ordered her son Jayden into the local authority's care, despite social workers finding 'no areas of concern'.
Miss Kelly now faces up to six months in prison for fleeing with the child.
A clerk at Basildon Magistrates Court attempted to impose a gagging order on the case last week but Miss Kelly's solicitor Mark Pearson quashed the application.
Journalists had already overturned a prior gagging order in a previous hearing on September 12.
After blocking the gagging order, Mr Pearson read aloud from the judgement, delivered by District Judge Stephen Hodges at Chelmsford County Court on August 9.
It described Miss Kelly's son as a 'happy, well-maintained child' and said her care of the youngster was 'more than satisfactory'.
Mr Pearson revealed Judge Hodges had ordered the boy be put up for adoption because social workers discovered he and Miss Kelly had been on a day trip to London with the child’s father.
He said social workers had feared Miss Kelly – who used drugs as a younger woman – could 'relapse' if she socialised with the boy's father. Miss Kelly claims she has passed all of her drug tests.
A social worker learned of the impromptu outing by monitoring the father's Facebook page.
Mr Pearson said: “The officer took the view that they could no longer trust Miss Kelly.”
Miss Kelly was given a week to appeal the August 9 judgement but Mr Pearson said a solicitor told her there were 'no grounds for appeal'.
Mr Pearson said Miss Kelly felt she was 'not given correct advice' and told the court he agreed.
Miss Kelly was ordered to surrender her son at the Willowbrook Family Centre, Church Road, on August 16, but instead fled to Scotland.
Mr Pearson said: “At this stage she simply did not know what to do. She is a mother who is going to lose her child when everyone is saying she is perfectly capable of caring for the child.”
The pair were found on August 22 and the child was taken into care.
Miss Kelly initially pleaded not guilty to the offence.
Mr Pearson said: “She couldn't bring herself to plead guilty because she felt she had done nothing wrong.”
He said she had changed her mind when she realised she had 'no choice'.
Magistrates were set to sentence her on Friday but told her they would defer the matter for a probation report because they felt she had 'significant personal mitigation in this situation'.
She will be sentenced later this month.
Mr Pearson said Miss Kelly would continue fighting for her son.
He said: “She is continuing and will never give up. There do seem to be some grounds for appeal.”
NB. Michelle Kelly was sentenced to a year-long community order, requiring supervision by the probation service. She vowed to fight the sentence and continues to maintain she did nothing wrong.
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