A mother has spoken of her anguish after her former partner onvicted of abducting their two children and taking them abroad was told he could leave prison.
Usama Al Barwani, 36, was due for release after serving half of a four-year jail term imposed by a crown court judge following criminal proceedings.
His former partner – Lacey Plato, 33, from Portsmouth – argued that because he was also in breach of a civil court order telling him to return daughter Aishah, 11, and son Faris, eight, he should be given a fresh jail term.
But Mr Justice Hayden, while concluding that Al Barwani had breached an order made by a High Court judge and was in contempt of court, decided against sending him back to jail.
After the court’s decision, Ms Plato said in a Facebook post: ‘Usama will be free to live in my home town of Portsmouth for the next year regardless. The judicial system and the British government have failed me and my children.’
Mr Justice Hayden said jailing Al Barwani had not resulted in the children - who are thought to be with Al Barwani’s sister in Oman - being returned.
The judge, who analysed the latest stage of the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court, said he wanted to try a fresh approach.
He has imposed a 12-month suspended prison term and ordered Al Barwani to arrange to get the children back.
The judge said Al Barwani would be at risk of returning to prison if he did not comply.
He said arrangements would be made to prevent Al Barwani fleeing the country and travelling to Oman.
The judge said Al Barwani would wear a monitoring tag and have to report regularly to police.
Al Barwani’s brother Ayman and sister-in-law Kelly were at the hearing.
The judge said they, and other family members, should do what they could to get the children back.
Al Barwani took the children abroad four years ago and their mother has not seen them since.
He said what Al Barwani had done was flagrant, premeditated, calculated, callous and ‘fundamentally cruel’.
The judge said Al Barwani was ‘wholly lacking in empathy’ for his children.
He said he did not know who was looking after the children or who went to them when they ‘cried out in the night’.
Last year another judge, overseeing an earlier stage of the litigation, described Al Barwani as ‘disgraceful’.
Mr Justice Moor had said it was rare that a court was faced with a father who could behave so ‘wickedly’.
Miss Plato broke down in tears as Mr Justice Hayden outlined his reasons for not sending Al Barwani back to jail.
Al Barwani showed no emotion, and leafed through the Quran throughout much of the hearing.