Mother jailed for refusing to reveal where kidnapped son being kept

By Simon O'Rourke

The Hamilton mother at the centre of a bitter six-year custody dispute was last night jailed indefinitely for contempt of court.

She will not be released until she indicates the whereabouts of her 6-year-old son, Jayden, or until the man thought to be accompanying him delivers the boy to the police.

In handing down the imprisonment order against Kay Skelton in the High Court at Hamilton, Justice Patrick Keane suppressed several reasons for his decision and prevented legal arguments from being published.

Skelton was escorted from court by two security guards, after spending much of the day seated with her family in the public gallery.

The boy's father, Chris Jones, is understood to be satisfied with the decision, which was seen as taking another step towards gaining custody of his son.

Mr Jones' lawyer, Thomas Sutcliffe, said that although the outcome was a good one his client took "no enjoyment in seeing the predicament of the mother. That's something she's brought upon herself, he's not the author of that."

It was hoped the sentence would bring some pressure to bear on the maternal side of the family to bring the boy back to where he belonged.

But Mr Sutcliffe did not express confidence that the boy would be returned soon.

"I just don't know, it's difficult to predict. The way these proceedings have continued, it's difficult to predict anything. Let's hope common sense will prevail."

Years of wrangling over which of the estranged parents should have custody or access to the boy came to a head on August 18 when Jayden was kidnapped from the Hamilton Public Library.

Police believed that the boy was transferred into the care of his grandfather, Dick Headley. It is thought the pair initially travelled to Northland and, two months later, are still in hiding.

But a court order made last week required Skelton to have produced Jayden in court yesterday, which she failed to do.

She and other family members were ordered to bring the child to court after Mr Jones took out writs of habeas corpus against six people.

Habeas corpus is a legal step dating back to the 13th century that can be used by private individuals to release a person from unlawful detention.

The group with writs filed against them included Kay Skelton's husband, Brett Skelton, Jayden's grandparents, Dick and Wendy Headley, and the boy's great-grandmother, Winifred Hart.

All escaped a custodial sentence yesterday.

Another person, whose name is suppressed, has appealed against the writ and this will be heard in the Court of Appeal today.

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