A father has been committed to prison for 18 months after separating his children from their mother while on holiday and refusing to return them.
The Court of Appeal was told that the children had not seen their mother for five years and were not living with either of their parents.
The case involved a Nigerian couple who moved to the UK where they had three children.
In 2013 they went on holiday to Nigeria. The father then separated the mother from the children and she has not seen them since. Both parents returned to the UK, but the children did not.
In England the children were made wards of court and their return was ordered. The father went to Nigeria and refused to co-operate with the court proceedings. He was held to be in contempt for various breaches of court orders, and in May 2015 he was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment in his absence.
In 2017 he returned to the UK and was arrested to serve the sentence. He was ordered to inform the relative in Nigeria who purportedly had the children that he had to ensure their return to England.
In September 2017 the father was ordered to serve 15 months in prison for various breaches including failing to attend court, harassing the mother and failing to provide information about the children. He was also ordered to bring the children back by November 2017.
He did not comply, and he was again ordered to bring them back in February 2018. The mother applied for his further committal. The court was shown transcripts of telephone calls made by the father from prison in the period June to August 2017, in which he made it clear that he did not want the children to be returned to the UK or for the authorities to know where they were.
The judge found that the father was controlling the children's situation and had the power to bring them back. He was sentenced to 18 months concurrent on each count.
The Court of Appeal has upheld that decision. It said the judge had the clearest evidence that the father was in flagrant breach of various orders. The children were not with either of their parents, a tragedy brought about by the father.
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Case Citations:  EWCA Civ 1714LEVI NKEM EGENEONU v IJEOMA EGENEONU (2018)CA (Civ Div) (Sharp LJ, Henderson LJ, Peter Jackson LJ)