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Father jailed after failing to return children to England and Wales

A man has been jailed for 18 months for failing to return his children to the jurisdiction after an application by Lancashire County Council.

His Honour Judge Duggan, sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court, said in his sentencing remarks he could see no reason for leniency and told Hassen Gholam Khan: “Any breach of a court order is a serious matter. This is particularly so when the order is designed to protect the welfare of children. The seriousness is also enhanced by the continuing nature of the breach.”

Mr Khan in June admitted breach of a court order to return his children from Afghanistan.

He arrived in the UK from Afghanistan in 2000 seeking asylum and was followed by his family, who all achieved British citizenship. His younger children were born here.

In July 2015 the whole family returned to Afghanistan after some months in which Lancashire Social Services were investigating them.

Mr Khan assaulted his older children and had “traditional cultural values which led to conflict within your family,” the judge said.

“Worryingly, this conflict included your attitude to the ability of the children to arrange marriages. There was domestic violence, there was poor school attendance and weak supervision of the younger children.

“These were the concerns of the local authority at the time you disappeared back to Afghanistan. The concerns were increased because you fled to the very place you had left because it was unsafe for you.”

The order was served on Mr Khan in December 2019 when he was found at Heathrow Airport, suspected of having brought drugs into the country.

Judge Duggan said he had adjourned sentence in June to give Mr Khan a chance to mitigate his breach of the order.

But Lancashire officers had since then been able to speak to the family in Afghanistan and it was clear that Mr Khan had discouraged them from returning to England.

The judge reduced the maximum sentence fo two years to 18 months because of Mr Khan’s admission of the breach.

But he refused to suspend the sentence. The judge said: “I am asked to conclude that a suspended sentence would in some way assist compliance with the order.

“You tell me that you have done all you can to comply with this order. It is illogical for you, at the same time to ask me to suspend the sentence so that you can do more.” He told Mr Khan that he might be able to apply to purge his contempt if he now arranged the children’s return.

 

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