Gran ‘is too big to be arrested’ - court

Rita Astbury in 2010.
Rita Astbury in 2010.
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An overweight woman has escaped being arrested – because she is too big, a court has been told.

Rita Astbury was due to answer to due to appear at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court yesterday to face charges of failing to ensure her granddaughters, who she looked after, attended school.

But the court heard her size meant it was impossible for her to be arrested and attend the hearing.

The 56-year-old, who is the legal guardian of the girls, aged 13 and 15, is bed-bound because of her size, and cannot be moved for health and safety reasons.

She hit headlines three years ago after the girls were abducted from her home on Milbourne Street, Blackpool, by their own mother.

She took them to Morocco to live with her and her partner.

A campaign was launched for their safe return, and the mother was made the subject on an international arrest warrant.

She was brought back to Britain where she was jailed for 10 months for abducting the children.

Warrant officer David Riches said: “I have been to (Astbury’s) house and frankly she is now too big to be arrested.”

Magistrates withdrew Bail Act offences against Astbury after hearing of her condition. The case was adjourned.

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “While we cannot comment on individual cases, Blackpool Council takes its responsibilities over ensuring children attend school extremely seriously.

“We always look to work with families to ensure the best outcome for children.”

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