Mother who kidnapped son gets bail to attend rehab program
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Mother who kidnapped son gets bail to attend rehab program

A Canberra mother who kidnapped her son for a week in August before being found in NSW bushland without suitable clothing or water, was bailed on Wednesday to receive rehabilitation.

Appearing in the ACT Magistrates Court, Tessa Woodcock, 36, pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawfully taking a child after a more serious charge was dropped.

Tessa Woodcock, who kidnapped her son Phoenix Mapham in August causing a week-long search, leaves the ACT Magistrates Court with her lawyer Adrian McKenna after receiving bail.

Tessa Woodcock, who kidnapped her son Phoenix Mapham in August causing a week-long search, leaves the ACT Magistrates Court with her lawyer Adrian McKenna after receiving bail.Credit:Elliot Williams

She had earlier pleaded guilty to breaching a family violence order.

The kidnapping sparked a week long hunt for Woodcock and her six-year-old son Phoenix Mapham and the territory's first ever amber alert.

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Prosecutor Patrick Dixon read a victim impact statement from the child's father, Clifford Mapham, to the court.

"The trauma I have suffered as a result of this incident has been unexpectedly far reaching" Mr Mapham wrote.

"My whole world seemed to come crashing down.

"As each day went by I began to worry I would never see my son again."

Mr Mapham said he had been too anxious to let anyone look after Phoenix, even his own parents, since the incident and he had missed work to stay with Phoenix, putting the family under financial pressure.

Mr Mapham also wrote he had concerns about how Phoenix would deal with the trauma of the incident.

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Woodcock's defence barrister James Lawton told the court Woodcock had reacted poorly to losing custody of Phoenix and hadn't appreciated the significance of her actions at the time.

He applied to have her sentence deferred which Mr Dixon did not oppose.

Magistrate Louise Taylor deferred Woodcock's sentence for three months and bailed her to receive rehabilitation and prove to the court she is capable of moving forward in life as a law-abiding citizen.

"This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to me that you can return to the community," Ms Taylor said to Woodcock.

"If you don't take this opportunity then I will have to re-think how your matter will be dealt with.

"This next little while, Ms Woodcock, will be what you make it."

She told Woodcock that she would still need work on her relationship with Phoenix after her actions in August.

Speaking outside the court, Woodcock's lawyer Adrian McKenna said his client was keen to begin the rehabilitation program.

"The court has given Ms Woodcock a chance to start the long process of rehabilitation," Mr McKenna said.

"She very much intends to do that and until this process is finished we'll have nothing more to say."

Woodcock was granted bail with the conditions to accept supervision from ACT Corrective Services, reside as directed, not use illegal drugs, submit herself to drug and alcohol testing and attend the rehabilitation service.

She will return to court in April for sentencing. The maximum penalty she could face is five years imprisonment. She has already spent more than four months in custody since her arrest.

Elliot Williams is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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