Mother who ran away with 14-year-old jailed

Last updated 11:39 11/12/2012

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A Hawke's bay mother who dropped her children at school before running away with her 14-year-old lover has been jailed.

Leanna Marie Hodgetts, 39 who has two teenage children, met the girl and kissed her at a party she was hosting last December. They ran away together in May, after the girl's family told police about their illegal relationship.

Hodgetts initiated the relationship, during which they exchanged sexually explicit texts and shared a bed, Napier District Court was told this morning.

Her lawyer Eric Forster said despite the 25 year age gap, the relationship was mutual.

However Crown prosecutor Josh Lucas said Hodgetts took advantage of a vulnerable girl for her own purposes.

Judge Geoff Rea said the law was structured to protect children from being "preyed upon" by older people.

The girl, who had a "tumultuous life" was still struggling with what happened, Judge Rea said.

During their relationship, the girl became infatuated with Hodgetts and lied to her family.Her family told police about Hodgett's relationship with a minor.

The police arranged to interview Hodgetts, but the day before the interview she dropped her children at school and texted the girl, telling her to pack a bag.

She also texted the girl's mother, saying: "I think I'm going to run away with [the girl] mum. If I'm going to jail I might az well make it worth it."

The girl, who was at the police station with her family, went to use the toilet at a nearby petrol station. Hodgetts picked her up and they drove to Bayview and withdrew most of Hodgetts' money.

They travelled to Tauranga and stayed for a week.

Hodgetts ignored all calls and texts from police and her family, including from her own daughter. When they realised police were looking for them, the pair went to Auckland.

On May 31, the girl caught a bus to Palmerston North and was found a few days later at Havelock North Hospital, visiting her sick grandmother.

Police found Hodgetts in Featherston the next day.

Family called out support to Hodgetts, when she appeared in court this morning for sentence for depriving a parent of her child and twice having an unlawful sexual connection with the girl.

Judge Rea sentenced Hodgetts to two-and-a-half-years' prison.

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- The Dominion Post

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