CHILD ABDUCTION PLOT
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
PRE-PLANNED, devious, selfish and evil.
These are the words used by a Newry Crown Court Judge to describe the plot by a foreign national living in the city to abduct his three children and take them to his homeland.
Mohamad Fayad of Upper Edward Street attempted fleeing Northern Ireland with his three youngsters in tow on March 29 last year.
But vigilant neighbours, who became suspicious after seeing him and the then 11-year-old twins and nine-year-old daughter leaving, contacted police.
The court heard that a very effective police swoop was operated, with Fayad tracked from Newry bus depot to Dublin airport - where he'd booked a one-way flight for him and his children, without the knowledge of their mother, to Heathrow. From there a connecting one-way flight to Beirut had been booked.
Gardai were alerted and apprehended Fayad at Dublin airport where, with the Guards being unable to arrest him due to the jurisdiction, he chose to leave his children with the officers and continue on his journey. But his plan was scuppered at Heathrow, where he was arrested by airport police as he attempted boarding the Beirut flight. His luggage was searched and £3,000 worth of jewellery was found along with the children's passports and a Lebanese Identity Card, all of which had earlier been stolen from the home of Fayad's estranged wife, the children's mother.
The court heard that Fayad denied all allegations against him, claiming his intention was to take the children to Beirut for a weekend break and that he'd taken the jewellery "for safekeeping". Texts later seen by police, sent from Fayad's phone to the children's mother, aimed to persuade her to back his story and say she'd consented to him taking the children.
But, with evidence mounting - including the lack of return flights, the fact he'd given his landlord notice a month before the date in question, packed eight suitcases with clothes and household items and sold his car - Fayad was charged with three counts of child abduction by a parent and burglary. He maintained his innocence until shortly before he was due to stand trial, when he changed his plea on all charges to guilty.
Passing sentence as a well-dressed Fayad wept in the dock, Judge Kevin Finnegan said he believed the 46-year-old's Fayad's actions had been motivated "one or all of" the factors of unhappiness at the end of his relationship with his wife, a desire to punish her for ending it, access issues and perhaps the intention of using his children as pawns with which to force reconciliation.
Praising the co-ordinated cross-border and UK operation that led to Fayad's arrest, the Judge said it had prevented potential unspeakable pain for his wife and children.
However, while slamming Fayad's actions as unspeakably evil, the Judge added that he must consider the well-being of the children involved, stressing that the court would not wish for them to in any way ever feel burdened by feelings of guilt over their father's fate.
Describing this element as being an exceptional factor in the case, the Judge said it had led him to conclude that prison was not the best outcome. He handed down a two-year sentence, suspended for five years.
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