Duo pretended to be mother and daughter

By Corey Charlton of Hawke's Bay Today -
Leeanna Marie Hodgetts. Photo / File photo
Leeanna Marie Hodgetts. Photo / File photo

A troubled young girl and a 39-year-old mother of two formed a secret relationship that lasted for months before fleeing together across the North Island as authorities were closing in on them.

The woman, Leeanna Marie Hodgetts, was arrested and pleaded guilty in the Napier District Court yesterday to two counts of sexual connection with a young person aged 12-16 and one count of abduction.

She was remanded in custody for sentencing on December 11.

The court heard the relationship began at a party in December last year. Over the next five months the two maintained a sexual relationship, and the girl became infatuated with Hodgetts - to the point she would lie about their relationship to her family.

By May police had been notified of the situation and an interview with Hodgetts was arranged for May 23.

But the day before the scheduled interview, Hodgetts had dropped her children off at school before texting the girl, telling her she would collect her that day.

She had then sent a text to her mother, telling her she was going to "run" with the girl because if she was going to go to prison she might as well make it "worth it".

Family members of Hodgetts told Hawke's Bay Today last night they were "shocked" when they originally heard about what had happened.

"It was very much out of character.

"She's never, ever done anything like this before."

The court heard the girl was at a police station before the pair went missing.

Asking to excuse herself to go to a bathroom across the road, she was picked up by Hodgetts in a car.

The two had headed to Tauranga where they spent roughly a week at the home of an associate of Hodgetts' and at a motor camp.

They had next visited Auckland, staying with an associate of Hodgetts' ex-husband.

During that time the two had pretended to be mother and daughter, and the girl had said she was 16.

On May 31 they had taken a bus to Palmerston North.

It was not until June 4 that the girl was located in Havelock North. Hodgetts turned herself in at the Featherston Police Station the following day.

Last night Hodgetts' family members would not comment further as it was "too upsetting".

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