Mum who ran away with teen girl jailed

Leeanna HodgettsA woman who formed a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, then fled with her across the North Island as police began inquiries into the crime, has been sentenced to prison.

Leeanna Marie Hodgetts, 39, pleaded guilty in the Napier District Court on November 15 to two counts of sexual connection with a young person aged 12-16 and one count of abduction.

She was sentenced yesterday to two years, six months in prison.

Appearing for sentencing at the Napier District Court, her defence lawyer Eric Forster said she was remorseful.

"She's accepting of her position and she's realistic about the outcome," he said.

He said the conduct of the victim was relevant. However Judge Geoff Rea disagreed, saying the law had been structured to protect young people, who should not be preyed upon.

"Having read the victim-impact statement from her mother, the effect on her from the relationship she had with you [Hodgetts] is still ongoing and she still struggles in many areas," the judge said.

"You have your own demons which need to be addressed and it appears you saw the same concerns in the young complainant."

The relationship began in December 2011 and during 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 interview, Hodgetts 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 jail she might as well make it worth it.

The two headed to Tauranga where they spent roughly a week, then visited Auckland.

During that time they pretended to be mother and daughter, and the girl said she was 16. On May 31 they had taken a bus to Palmerston North.

On June 4 the girl was found in Havelock North. Hodgetts turned herself in at the Featherston Police Station the next day.

- Hawke's Bay Today

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