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Child Abduction

Date produced: 13 March 2013
Title: Offences Against the Person
Offence: Child Abduction
Legislation: Child Abduction Act 1984 section 1 - by parent, Child Abduction Act 1984 section 2 - by stranger
Mode of Trial: Triable either way
Statutory Limitations & Maximum Penalty:  Seven years

Aggravating & Mitigating Factors

  • Whether force used
  • Any sexual or violent motive
  • Breach of court order or defiance of legal process
  • Sophistication
  • Removal to another country
  • Length of period of abduction
  • Resulting impact upon victim and family

Relevant Sentencing Guidelines (If Any)

Neither SGC definitive guideline nor guideline case covering this offence.

Relevant Sentencing Case Law for Abduction by Parent

R. v J.A. and others [2002] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 108
The mother and father of a girl aged 9 pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting her detention from the lawful control of a local authority contrary to section 2.  The maternal grandmother pleaded guilty to conspiracy to abduct.  Whilst care proceedings were pending, the grandmother took her to Ireland and later to Scotland.  The High Court made an interim care order and a recovery order.  For several weeks the parents remained in contact with another defendant who had moved to Scotland with the grandmother and girl, and they became aware of the child's precise location. They decided not to inform the authorities, but drove to Scotland to spend the weekend with their daughter. Police officers followed them and found the parents and girl. Nine months for the mother and grandmother and six months for the father upheld.

R. v Brennan [2007] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 50
Appellant convicted of abducting a son.  He took steps to prevent contact between the child and his mother and eventually took the child to Canada. The judge described the appellant's behaviour as involving considerable dishonesty, planning and manipulations of the Canadian authorities and his new family in Canada.  Eventually, the son was returned to this country.  The appellant was deported from Canada and arrested on his return to the United Kingdom. Sentence of four years imprisonment upheld.

R. v M [2008] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 73
Appellant pleaded guilty to abducting his stepson, aged 8 and subject to a care order, contrary to section 2.  Shortly before the hearing of the mother's application for the discharge of the care order, he was abducted from his foster parents. The boy was persuaded by his mother to creep out of their home in the early hours of the morning.  He had only met the appellant on one fleeting encounter months previously.  The boy was met by his mother, and his mother and the appellant immediately drove to France. The appellant subsequently returned to the United Kingdom, although the child and his mother did not. The appellant was asked in interview to indicate where the boy was, but he effectively declined.  Sentence of 16 months imprisonment upheld.

R v Kayani, R v Solliman [2012] 1 Cr. App. R. (S.) 16
Two separate cases of long term abduction of taking young children (age range 8 to 4) out of the country, when court orders were in force and without contacting the mothers following return to this country.  Kayani took two children to Pakistan in 2000 and returned them to this country in 2009.  Solliman took three children to Egypt in 2002 and returned them to this country in 2009.  The court provided general guidance and considered previous sentencing decisions.  Per Lord Judge CJ: "The abduction of children from a loving parent is an offence of unspeakable cruelty to the loving parent and to the child or children, whatever they may later think of the parent from whom they have been estranged as a result of the abduction. It is a cruel offence even if the criminal responsible for it is the other parent."  Sentences of 5 years imprisonment for Kayani and 3 years for Solliman upheld. 

Recent Decisions reported in  CSP at B3-4.3F

Relevant Sentencing Case Law for Abduction by Stranger

R. v Dean [2000] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 253
Appellant convicted of child abduction.  He saw a 4-year-old boy sent by his mother to collect a loaf of bread from a friend. As he was returning to his home, the appellant approached him, told him to come to him and to close his eyes, and threatened to kill him. The boy's mother found the appellant holding the boy by the hand; he broke free and escaped.  Sentence of five years imprisonment upheld.

R. v Mawdsley [2001] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 101
Appellant pleaded guilty to two counts of abducting a child, involving friends of his son. He went to a school, said he was the uncle of a 13-year-old boy, and left school with him.  Similar pretence another school involving a boy aged 12. He took them both to his house where they watched television and he let them leave, with nothing untoward happening while they were there, some hours later.  His son was present throughout. Sentence reduced to 18 months imprisonment on each count concurrent

R. v J.A. and others [2002] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 108
Case covered in more detail in the previous section.  The mother and father of a girl aided and abetted her detention from the lawful control of a local authority contrary to section 2, and the maternal grandmother conspired to abduct.

R. v Delaney [2003] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 81
Appellant pleaded guilty to abducting a 12-year-old girl on the basis that during a relationship with her mother he had formed a paternal relationship with the girl.  The relationship between the adults having broken down, the girl told him that she was running away from home and he suggested that she stay with him.  Police search instituted, and he was aware of this.   Five days later, the girl was found in his with her hair cut and dyed.  He said that they had been sleeping rough. He had no relevant previous convictions and was of relatively limited mental ability.  The offence had a traumatic effect on the girl's family.  Sentence of two and a half years imprisonment upheld.

R. v Prime [2005] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 45
Guilty plea.  The appellant arrived at a house where a children's party was taking place. He asked a 9-year-old boy to go with him to buy cigarettes, took the boy to a piece of ground, asked whether he wanted any money, grabbed him, pulled him to the ground, hit and kicked him. Some injuries.  Period involved somewhat under an hour.  Sentence reduced to 3 years imprisonment.

R. v Delaney [2007] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 93
Appellant, a man of previous good character but on bail at the time, was convicted of attempting to abduct a child. He approached a 13-year-old girl waiting at a bus stop, introduced himself to her, grabbed her arm and tried to pull her away.  She ran away. Court observed that perhaps surprisingly child abduction is not a specified offence.  Sentence of four years imprisonment upheld.

R. v Serrant [2007] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 80
Appellant pleaded guilty on the first day of trial to abducting a child.  He and two others came across an 11-year-old boy who was the brother of the person who they claimed owed them money for drugs. He was pulled into their car and for over three hours was driven around. Phone calls were made to the family, stating that their son would not be returned until the money was paid. The police stopped the car as it was being driven by the appellant with the boy in the back seat in a very distressed state. Money left in a shop for the men was found in the car.  Sentence of four years imprisonment upheld.

R. v M [2008] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 73
Case covered in more detail in the previous section.  Abduction of stepson, aged 8 and subject to a care order, contrary to section 2.

R v Oakes [2011] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 102
The appellant, whilst drunk, approached an 11-year-old boy sitting on railings outside his school.  The appellant put his arms round the boy's neck and they walked to the entrance of an alley, where the appellant pinned the boy against a wall and kissed him on his cheek twice.  A teacher shouted at him to stop and the boy slipped away.  Appellant stated in interview that he had no memory of the incident.  Guilty plea.  Sentencing judge concluded that the appellant had been sexually motivated.  His view and sentence of 2 years 8 months imprisonment (with an indefinite SOPO) upheld.

Recent Decisions reported in CSP at CSP at B3-4.3G

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