Father jailed for snatching boy: 18 months for contempt after judge is told abductions have left 12-year-old 'in a mess'

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The Independent Online
PETER MALKIN, whose obsessive love for his son Oliver led him to abduct the 12-year-old four times, was jailed for 18 months yesterday for defying a court order not to take the boy away from his mother.

As he was led away by High Court tipstaffs to begin his sentence, Malkin shouted: 'I love him, I love Oliver, I wish him the best. Send all my love to Oliver, just my love.'

Despite pleading that he had thought that he was acting in Oliver's best interests, Malkin was told by the judge that he had committed 'a gross, calculated and deliberate defiance of the order of the court'.

Sir Stephen Brown, President of the Family Division of the High Court, said that a psychiatrist's report said Oliver had already suffered severely from his father's actions and could develop psychosis.

Malkin, 54, a businessman who owns a country club in Kent and a hotel in Devon, abducted his son on

8 November in France, where the boy was living with his mother Elisa Pridmore and her second husband, Andrew.

The father and son went to Egypt with Malkin's partner, Audrey Donnelly, 45, where they spent several weeks in the holiday resort of Hurghada. It was the fourth time that Oliver had been abducted by his father in the past six years.

Last July the High Court ordered Malkin not to take the boy from his mother and not to remove him from France. The court threatened Malkin with sequestration of his property unless he returned to Britain.

On Thursday Malkin and Mrs Donnelly flew back to London with Oliver, who was sent on to France and reunited with his mother, who has cancer. The couple were arrested at Heathrow and detained until yesterday's hearing.

Sir Stephen told Malkin, who admitted that he was in contempt of court: 'It is quite plain that you set out on a deliberate course of forcibly abducting this child and seeking to take him to a place beyond the reach of this jurisdiction.

'This is a matter which strikes at the root of the rule of law. The court is very jealous of its jurisdiction in relation to its wards of court.'

He said a report on Oliver prepared by Dr Donald Holt, a child psychiatrist, said that 'in psychological terms the price Oliver has had to pay for his to-ing and fro-ing is considerable. He is sensitive, vulnerable and needy, in colloquial terms he is in

a mess.

'Unless some feeling of stability can be guaranteed he is in danger of crossing the borderline and becoming clinically ill or even developing

psychosis.'

Peter Jackson, counsel for Malkin, said: 'He very much regrets the situation which he has brought about. It is clear that in removing Oliver the father considered that he was acting in the boy's interests.'

He added that Malkin was a law- abiding man who had been overcome by love for his son and the fact that he had no legal access to him. He had not been told by the Pridmores that they were taking Oliver to live in France.

In late October Oliver had telephoned his father sounding unhappy and asked him to take him away and in those circumstances Malkin felt that his son needed help.

A letter from Oliver, which was not read out in court, was handed to the judge. It was written on the flight home and is believed to be a plea for his father not to be jailed.

After the case Sandra Davis, Malkin's solicitor, said: 'He returned voluntarily to this country and is naturally very disappointed at the length of his sentence.'

Allan Levy QC, a specialist in child law, said that although he was not surprised Malkin had been sent to prison it could be argued that the length of the sentence was 'a little on the severe side'.

The only way Malkin can obtain early release is to purge his contempt by repeating the apology he gave through his barrister yesterday and promising not to defy the court again.

Mrs Donnelly was released pending a hearing to consider her alleged contempt of court in a week's time. Next month Malkin will seek care and control of or access to Oliver in a wardship hearing.

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