'Tragic' case ends in 16 months for French mom

5th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

VANCOUVER, Dec 4, 2006 (AFP) - Frenchwoman Nathalie Gettliffe was sentenced Monday to 16 months in a Canadian jail for kidnapping her two children by her former Canadian husband and holding them for five years.

VANCOUVER, Dec 4, 2006 (AFP) - Frenchwoman Nathalie Gettliffe was sentenced Monday to 16 months in a Canadian jail for kidnapping her two children by her former Canadian husband and holding them for five years.

A Vancouver judge called the case of Gettliffe, a professor of English at a French university and mother of four, "some of the most tragic circumstances I have ever had to deal with."

The judge added three years of probation under strict conditions to the jail sentence for the 2001 kidnapping, in which Gettliffe took her son and daughter away from her former husband and flew them to France, hiding them with members of her family.

She was arrested in Canada on April 11 when she flew to the western city of Vancouver to defend her doctorate thesis in applied linguistics at the University of British Columbia.

Two months later French police helped her ex-husband Scott Grant bring their two children back from France, where the case had drawn huge media attention and Grant was painted as a religious extremist and child abuser.

In November Gettliffe pleaded guilty to the kidnappings and to defying a 2001 Canadian court order not to remove the children during a bitter custody dispute with Grant.

"I would prefer not to incarcerate her," said justice Marvyn Koenigsberg of the British Columbia Supreme Court, noting that Gettliffe has already had a difficult time in jail since her arrest and that she had given birth in September to her fourth child, who now lives in jail with her.

Gettliffe and her partner in France also have a 16-month old son.

But the judge said Gettliffe victimized grant and their children, causing "immeasurable, perhaps irretrievable harm."

"She has also attacked the Canadian system of justice," Koenigsberg said.

Koenigsberg ruled that the kidnapping was pre-meditated, and that while Gettliffe may not have intended to remain permanently in France, once she broke Canadian law she found herself trying to "justify her conduct."

"The offender intentionally and without lawful excuse deprived her children and their father of their important ... right to share their daily lives with each other," said the judge.

Gettliffe's jail time will be reduced to account for her incarceration since her arrest, and since she can soon apply for parole, she could be out of jail quickly, said prosecution spokesman Geoffrey Gaul and Gettliffe's lawyer Richard Fowler.

Fowler also said Gettliffe will apply under an international treaty to spend her remaining jail time and probation in France.

In her ruling, the judge noted that Gettliffe must "witness the devastation of her children when they have to visit her in jail," adding that it was Gettliffe's own fault.

"I can only hope that she realizes that it is not Scott Grant who is responsible for that devastation, it is her own continuing defiance."

During the sentencing hearing the judge called the attitude in France toward the case "mob rule."

Grant said he was shocked at the manipulative publicity in France, including allegations about his religious beliefs and false accusations that he abused the children. Grant said he would not feel comfortable going to that country.

"If I ever went back to that small town I may not be safe," he said. "I received kidnapping threats and death threats."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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