Abduction father gets jail sentence

By Jessica Elgot, December 22, 2010
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An "arrogant" Jewish father who abducted his daughter and fled to Israel has been sentenced to four months in prison for refusing to return her to England.

A warrant will now be issued for the arrest of the man, who still lives in Israel, although his daughter has been returned to the UK.

The man and his wife divorced in 1996, when their daughter was seven, and have been in almost constant litigation over her future. The girl is now in her 20s, but lacks legal capacity to decide where she should live.

In September 2009, Lord Justice Munby ruled that the daughter should move to a residential college, despite her father's insistence that she should live with him.

He fled to Israel with her in October and told his other daughter he had "gone away to find peace and safety".

When contacted by Lord Justice Munby, the father asked him to "be a mensch" and support his actions. He added: "We are well… despite the attempt at 'inconveniencing' us."

He refused to return or provide his address but in December sent his ex-wife a photo of himself and their daughter, next to a hotel sign - interpreted as a "clue" to their whereabouts.

In February 2010, Israeli police removed his daughter and the country's Supreme Court ordered her return to England in April. She is now back in the UK.

Her father has since been granted Israeli citizenship and lives in Tel Aviv. He has refused to return.

He was charged with seven counts of contempt of court, including removing his daughter to Israel, failing to return, provide his address, give details of his assets or attend hearings.

Mr Justice Jackson at the Family Division of the High Court this week said the father must serve a prison sentence for contempt.

He was sentenced to four months in prison for failing to return from Israel, to run concurrently with two one-month sentences for failing to declare his address and assets.

But the judge said the father was not in contempt for taking his daughter to Israel, because two orders aimed at preventing him from doing so were not clearly defined.

Mr Justice Jackson said: "Abducting [her] was in gross defiance of the spirit of the order, but that is not the issue."

The father was not in court but was present by telephone link. Sentencing him for the other offences, the judge said: "You have acted with contempt in every sense of the word."

"I do not accept your comments in an email yesterday that you are heartbroken and remorseful. I have spoken to you for many hours and could not detect one hint of remorse."

"You are an arrogant man who abuses his obvious intelligence. You never tire of trumpeting your own rights."

He added that he must give a custodial sentence, but had given the shortest possible.

    Last updated: 1:44pm, December 22 2010