A father has had another year added to his jail sentence for his continuing failure to comply with court orders to return his five-year-old daughter to her mother in Leeds.
Tamer Salama was told by Mr Justice Cobb, sitting at the High Court in London, that it was now time for him to “wake up” and recognise that the “state of affairs” was not in the best interests of his daughter Elsa.
Elsa, who turns six next month, has not been seen or heard from by her mother Naomi Button, 39, who lives in Leeds, since a family visit to Egypt in December 2011.
Egyptian-born teacher Salama has been in custody since January last year and was serving a total of two years for contempt of court until Mr Justice Cobb ruled on Monday that he had committed fresh breaches of the court orders made in relation to Elsa and should serve another year in custody.
The judge said Elsa was still being deprived of the “love and care” of her mother “in circumstances where I am satisfied that her father has it in his power to achieve the restoration of her relationship”.
He said Elsa had not been returned to the jurisdiction of England and Wales and Salama had also failed to give the child’s whereabouts or provide any form of contact between the girl and her mother.
“I regard the continued state of affairs as one which is wholly outside Elsa’s best interests and I believe that the father needs now to wake up and recognise that.”
He said: “When Mr Salama first deprived Elsa of the love of her mother and arranged for her to be in the care of his own family, that was a gross act which undoubtedly justified ...the most serious punishment available to the court.”
It was “vital in Elsa’s interests that she is restored to the care of her mother as soon as possible”.
The judge imposed a total of 12 months for failing to comply with various orders, including failure to return Elsa to the UK, failing to take any reasonable steps to cause her return, failing to tell the mother where her child is and who has her care, and failing to take any steps to enable mother and daughter to speak by telephone or via Skype.
The judge said it was “absolutely clear” that “the father regards a life for Elsa in this country as wholly contrary to her interests, and her life in Egypt totally consistent with her best interests”.