Father 'hired men to kidnap daughter': Man denies snatching four-year-old

A FATHER hired two men to snatch his four-year-old daughter from his estranged wife on a street in London, a court at the Old Bailey was told yesterday.

The father, an American film producer who cannot be named for legal reasons, was alleged to have taken the girl to Scotland, Ireland, the United States and finally to Israel in June 1990, where he was tracked down by British police four weeks later.

The mother was reunited with her daughter at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, and the father was extradited to Britain last year, Bernard Phelvin, for the prosecution, said.

On the day of the alleged kidnapping, the daughter had been to a party and her mother was attacked from behind as she stood on the pavement outside their Battersea home waiting for her to get out of a car, the court heard.

A hand was placed round her throat and something was sprayed in her face before her daughter was snatched, Mr Phelvin said.

He said the father, 53, who denies kidnapping his daughter, took her on holiday to France and sent solicitors letters saying they were not coming back. Armed with court orders, the mother crossed the Channel and brought the girl back.

He said there was little dispute about the facts of the case, but what the jury would have to decide was whether the child was taken against her will. They would also have to consider whether a child of her age would be able 'to exercise any degree of consent'.

The trial was adjourned until today.

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