A Wolverhampton couple have been sentenced to prison after their role in the abduction of their two grandchildren.
The Family Court had previously ruled that the two children must live with their father and that the mother was to be limited to one hour per month with them. Each hour was to be supervised and take place at a contact centre.
However, on 16 May the grandparents drove the children to meet the mother in secret. She took the children by car to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. From there, they flew to Madrid and finally to Costa Rica.
Police in the Central American country were quickly notified of the abduction and the two children were taken into care. They spent a week in a Costa Rican orphanage before their father and a social worker flew out to collect them. The family was finally able to return to the UK in August.
The grandparents initially denied any involvement in the abduction. However, they admitted to child abduction and attempting to pervert the course of justice once the police produced evidence which implicated them both.
At the Wolverhampton Crown Court, Judge John Wait sentenced the grandmother to 14 months in prison and the grandfather to a year. The slightly shorter sentence reflected his smaller role in the abduction.
The judge said that while their actions “were done out of love and emotion, not for money”, the consequences had been “quite awful”. He declared that the couple had “knowingly flouted a court order and told lies in the Royal Courts of Justice”.
Following the judge’s decision, the couple’s lawyer said that they “knew they had made a terrible mistake”. He added that they were “devastated” because they had “lost their grandchildren and their daughter”.
British authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the children’s mother but she is still in Costa Rica.
Photo of the Costa Rican flag by Zhu via Flickr