Mother cleared over text message

A PREGNANT woman who sparked a nationwide police hunt after disappearing with her two young sons was yesterday cleared of sending false and alarming text messages to her transvestite partner.

A PREGNANT woman who sparked a nationwide police hunt after disappearing with her two young sons was yesterday cleared of sending false and alarming text messages to her transvestite partner.

Louisa Vowles, who had a history of drug abuse and mental health problems, vanished with her two sons last year after becoming desperate and confused by a number of problems, including her relationship with cross-dresser Tim Andrews.

Mr Andrews phoned the police saying he thought Ms Vowles, who had taken a two month supply of prescription pills with her, intended to kill the boys, Logan, six and Zachariah, seven, and then herself, Witham Magistrates Court heard.

Before she disappeared Ms Vowles had told Mr Andrews, who spent three or four days each week at her home in Chignall Smealy, near Chelmsford, that she was taking her children to buy sweets and cigarettes from a local shop on the afternoon of October 15.

When she failed to return to her house after an hour Mr Andrews, a digital print specialist, became concerned and later that evening, after consuming alcohol, sent her a text message indicating he was going to take his own life.

Ms Vowles responded the next day at around 3pm with a text message declaring she was "so, so sorry" and did not know what she was doing.

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But in a further text message at around 7pm she added: "I was going to give the boys a few days of fun and then do something very stupid … I will not let the boys feel pain. There are ways of doing things without that."

Mr Andrews contacted the police and after media exposure of the case 26-year-old Ms Vowles - who was pregnant with his child - was located on October 17 in a Bournemouth hotel.

She was found in a room with the unharmed boys and a quantity of citric acid, a substance used to prepare heroin.

Yesterday magistrates found Ms Vowles, who had attempted suicide on several previous occasions and had threatened her sons' life in 2000, not guilty of sending messages which she knew to be false with a purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience and anxiety.

Passing judgement, Dr James Bettley, said: "Everybody accepts that you sent the message.

"We find that there are too many uncertainties about what was exactly in your mind when you sent the message and exactly what you meant when you said 'not letting the boys feel pain'.

"There's too much ambiguity. We cannot be certain beyond reasonable doubt that you knew the message to be false when you sent it."

Ms Vowles thanked the magistrates and Mr Andrews, who was sitting behind her, started crying.

She had told police that although the text message implied she wanted to harm her boys, she did not mean to.

"In a way I wanted it to come across like that because I wanted to upset him (Andrews), but I didn't mean it," she said.

She also told the Essex court she had been threatened with eviction and was taking a variety of medication which had made her decisions "not very good".

"I was just trying to pull myself away from everything," she said.

Ms Vowles said she took 80 or 90 tablets with her because she was taking up to 20 a day and that all she wanted to do with her children was take them to the cinema and the beach.

"I might have wanted to hurt myself but not my children."

She said when she heard appeals for her return on the radio she got scared and did not know what to do.

She faced losing her home, had had a troublesome childhood, had self-harmed at an early age and had been in a difficult and sometimes violent relationship before she met Mr Andrews.

His transvestitism was also something she found difficult to accept and talk about, she said.

Ms Vowles' counsel, David McIntosh, said: "Her life was chaotic ... she was in a desperate state of mind, she didn't know what she was doing."

Mr Andrews, who has been in a relationship with Ms Vowles for nine months, told the court he had withdrawn his initial statement to police because parts of it were malicious.

He said of his partner: "I have a great belief for her love for her children. They are her world. I didn't believe she would hurt them."

Speaking after the hearing yesterday, a clearly relieved Ms Vowles would only say: "I feel fine."

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