A MUM is facing criminal charges for sending her son a birthday card.

Maureen Spalek sent a birthday card to her eight-year-old son, who currently lives with adoptive parents in Widnes, on April 16.

The mum-of-three has been charged with harassment and breaking a restraining order.

She did not enter a plea at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Debbie Thompson, prosecuting, said the birthday card breached a restraining order stating she must not contact the adoptive mother, and doing so constituted harassment.

But Mrs Spalek, aged 49, of Hilford Avenue, Hunts Cross, said she addressed the birthday card directly to her son, which did not violate the order. She added the card was only sent directly because on her daughter’s last birthday she mailed a card to social services, but it was never forwarded.

Mrs Spalek has been fighting for custody of her children since 2003 when they were taken into care. Her eldest son Sean, aged 12, was run over by a teenage motorcyclist in Liverpool’s Springwood Park.

After four days at Alder Hey hospital Mrs Spalek was told she could not take Sean home because of ‘abusive’ behaviour towards staff, something she denies.

She returned to her home address where her other two children were being cared for by their grandmother, only to find police had removed them. The former civil servant calls the incident ‘child snatching’ and is convinced her three children were removed in order to meet adoption targets. A local authority receives a grant when hitting targets, although this rule was abolished in April 2008. Mrs Spalek will now stand trial on June 29 before Warrington magistrates. She said: “When I was arrested I couldn’t believe it. “I thought I couldn’t contact the mother directly or cause distress – it’s just a birthday card, it’s hardly a criminal offence. “It was an innocent act because I was thinking of my son.” Judge Bridget Knight said that the rules were different because Mrs Spalek was now a ‘former parent’. She said: “This case is highly emotional but technically a natural parent legally becomes a former parent in this situation.”