Father jailed for abducting two of his children in 1998 - Slough

05/09/2014

A man appeared at Reading Crown Court, sitting at Reading Magistrates’ Court, yesterday, Thursday, 04 September 2014, and was jailed for abducting two of his children from Slough in 1998.

Mohammed Ashraf Rafique Choudhry, aged 58, of Borselaarstraat, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, was found guilty of two counts of child abduction after a four day trial.

He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for each count, which will run concurrently.

On 27 January 1998, a contact order was made at Slough County Court following years of protracted and complex family proceedings. The court order meant that Choudhry would have contact with all three of his children on the first and third weekend of every month. This was on the provision that he collected and returned them to an address in Slough.

On 17 April 1998, Choudhry collected his two youngest children, then aged two and three, but he failed to return them. His eldest child did not want to go so he stayed with the mother, who was separated from Choudhry.

On 20 April 1998, a prohibited steps order was made at Slough County Court, which ordered a relative of Choudhry's to attend and account for the whereabouts of Choudhry and his two children as she was suspected of being involved in their abduction. However, the relative was adamant that she did not know where they were, and that she had not been involved in anyway.

Subsequent lengthy enquiries were carried out by the mother and the police in order to locate the missing children, but to no avail.

On 09 September 2012, the same relative, involved in the April 1998 hearing, got in touch with the children's mother, via her solicitor, to inform her that her missing son, who was now aged 17, was in Ilford, Essex. Officers from Thames Valley Police were also made aware and they met with the 17-year-old who was safe and well. A copy of his Dutch passport and ID card were obtained.

Around two months later, in November 2012, the daughter, then aged 16, got in contact with her mother and older brother using social networking sites, asking to come home to live with them in England.

On Monday, 10 December 2012, the daughter presented herself as a missing person to Rotterdam police station. Two days later, she was returned to the UK to live with her mother and older brother.

A European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for Choudhry was issued on 15 January 2014, by Reading Magistrates' Court. This was executed in Holland on 23 January 2014, with the then 57-year-old being arrested at his home address in Rotterdam. He was later bailed by the Dutch courts to allow for a court decision to be made with regards to his extradition to the UK.

On 09 April 2014, Choudhry was extradited to the UK and appeared before Reading Magistrates' Court the following day charged with two charges of child abduction.  They were both under the age of 16 at the time of the offences being committed in April 1998. Choudhry had taken them from Slough and out of the UK without appropriate consent from their mother.

Choudhry pleaded not guilty to the charges on Friday, 01 August 2014, but was convicted following a four day trial which began on Monday, 01 September.

Choudhry's defence during trial was that he had written consent from his estranged wife to take their two youngest children, but this was not the case and he was found guilty despite his denials.

At the time of sentencing, the Judge, Recorder Gallagher told the court that these were two of the most harrowing cases that he had to try in his whole career. He went onto tell Choudhry that this was a wicked, malicious and heartless act that he had committed when he abducted his children. He said that abduction of children is an offence of unspeakable cruelty. He also commented that Mr Choudhry had displayed "remarkable arrogance" during the trial.