A woman who kidnapped her child 18 years ago, after a custody battle, pleaded guilty to abduction in a Toronto court Friday.
Patricia O'Byrne was arrested in Victoria, B.C., for violating a custody order and leaving Ontario with her baby.
Police said that in 1993 O'Byrne fled with her daughter who is now 21 years old, following a custody battle with the father, Joe Chisholm. The daughter cannot be named due to a publication ban.
"There were reasons. Like I told the court today, a number of reasons that were informed by her past," said O'Byrne's lawyer Julianna Greenspan.
O'Byrne told the court, through her lawyer, that she left to protect her daughter from her ex-husband. The court also heard an apology from O'Byrne and that the woman had been physically and sexually abused as a child.
"There were a lot of people and organizations and groups that were impacted. And, Patricia speaks to them, recognizing the impact this case has had on them," said Greenspan.
The young woman has not seen her mother since she was arrested on Dec. 1.
According to Greenspan, the mother and daughter were close and the young woman does not want her mother to go to jail.
Chisholm spent 18 years searching for his daughter with the help of charitable organizations, a public blog and YouTube videos, where he pleaded for any information that would lead to her return.
Police said that O'Byrne and her daughter were living in Victoria under assumed names. O'Byrne worked for the B.C. government as a public affairs officer and, until May 2012, was on the parents' committee at a local high school.
According to the lawyers Chisholm, who was not in court today, does not want O'Byrne to go to jail. He is focusing on building a relationship with his daughter and wants to move on.
Despite Chisholm's wishes, O'Byrne is facing a little less than two years in prison.
O'Byrne is out on bail until the judge rules on the case, which is expected to happen in April.