In the Media

Father in jail after kidnap bid foiled

PUBLISHED August 13, 2007

A father's attempt to abduct his son was thwarted by police who boarded a plane minutes before it was due to leave for Nigeria.

Police had been alerted by the 11-year-old's mother, after the father, a 36-year-old international businessman, had snatched the boy from her.

The man, who cannot be named to protect his son's identity, was jailed for 12 months on Thursday after an Old Bailey jury found him guilty of attempted abduction.

The court heard how the couple were married in 1991 and had two children, the 11-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl, before moving to the UK in 1999.

By June 2006 the marriage was foundering and the wife moved out of the marital home in Welwyn Hatfield with the children to live with her family in Croydon.

But when the father asked to see his children on July 13 last year, he grabbed his son and refused to return him to his mother.

Deborah Bickerstaff, prosecuting, said: "He told his children that he was going back to Nigeria for good. He said he had presents for them.

"He asked his wife when he would be able to see his children and she said he would have to go through the courts.

"He reacted badly to this and took hold of his son by the arm and led him away in the opposite direction leaving his wife alone with his daughter."

She told the police who told her to make it clear to her husband it was against the law to leave the country with his son without her permission.

Police checked flight logs and discovered the father had made a British Airways booking for July 18 last year.

Ms Bickerstaff said: "The mother spoke to her husband a number of times on the telephone and asked if he was planning to take their son to Nigeria but he refused to answer. She made it clear he did not have her consent."

On July 17 the mother applied for an emergency court order preventing her husband from leaving the country but when officers visited his home they found the house packed up.

Judge Paul Worsley QC told the man: "This is a case which calls for a sentence of imprisonment.

"It is one that must punish you and must deter other people who think they can take young children out of the jurisdiction.