(Black Press Media files)

Alberta woman charged with child abduction pleads guilty to lesser charge

Womann can’t be identified under a court-ordered publication ban

A woman in southern Alberta who was charged with child abduction has been handed a two-year conditional sentence after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

The woman, who can’t be identified under a court-ordered publication ban, has been convicted of breaching a court order.

Lethbridge Provincial court Judge Jerry LeGrandeur sentenced her to one year of house arrest followed by a year of probation after accepting a joint submission from the Crown and defence.

Court heard the woman was charged after she took her son to Belize six years ago.

The case later involved their removal from Central America.

Defence lawyer Andre Ouellette said his client is pleased the case is finally over.

“It has been going on for years, so she feels a lot better — she is going to have another child,” he said Friday outside court.

“She feels relieved, mostly, because it has been going on so long.”

Crown prosecutor Tony Bell said it was a fair resolution.

“Justice has been done,” he said in a statement.

The case began on Jan. 6, 2014, when the woman’s ex-husband told police she had taken their son and left the country. The following month she was charged with child abduction and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Police tracked the woman and child to Mexico, Guatemala and parts of Belize.

The following July, Lethbridge police learned that Belize authorities found the pair in the town of San Ignacio and took them into custody. The mother was jailed and fined for failing to produce valid immigration documents and the four-year-old boy was placed in the care of Belize Social Services.

In August 2017, the mother was removed from the country and arrested after landing in Houston, then returned to Canada.

She was taken into custody by Lethbridge police and released from custody Aug. 23 following a bail hearing.

Ouellette didn’t say what prompted her to take her son.

“There were some serious disputes between them,” he said. “And on that basis my client made a decision that she felt that whatever the father would view as the appropriate way to bring up the child was not appropriate by her standards.”

Nick Kuhl, Lethbridge Herald, The Canadian Press

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