Judge criticises parents after children went missing on Pakistan flight alone

A High Court judge has criticised parents whose children went missing after being sent on an unaccompanied flight to Pakistan.

Alyssa Din, 15, and her sisters Safia, five, and Amani, now four, flew to Karachi via Islamabad in October after leaving their home in Preston.

Mr Justice Hayden described the girls' ordeal as "brutal" and said it was to stop them being taken into care.

Their father apologised and said he hoped the children would soon return.

Ilyas Din and their mother Mazeley Din were jailed last year for contempt of court after failing to provide information about the children's whereabouts.

The judge lifted a ban on their identities and their children at a hearing on Monday.

'Threatened'

Mr Din told the Family Division of the High Court in London the couple had panicked, adding: "We are not bad people. We just made a mistake. People do make mistakes.

"We are loving parents but we were afraid because we were threatened by social workers."

He said he had contacted a relative in Pakistan and hoped that the three children would soon return to England

Mrs Din asked the court: "What am I supposed to do?

"I am trying to get my children back but nobody is helping me get my children back. You have just put me in prison."

Mr Din, who is in his late 40s, was given a 12-month term and Mrs Din, who is in her 30s, received a six-month sentence, following the hearing in Liverpool in December.

The couple have other children and have been married for 17 years.

'Mother subjugated'

Mr Justice Hayden decided initially decided not to reveal the family's identities because he thought publicity might harm any children still in England.

He lifted the ban in the hope it might lead to them being found.

The judge said the "mother's will had been subjugated by the father".

He said people had twice called the police because there were "so concerned" about the "noise of violence" coming from the Din home.

Mr Din had previously been acquitted of causing grievous bodily harm to Mrs Din after she told jurors there had been a "terrible accident".

Lancashire County Council's solicitor told the judge the local authority was "simply" inquiring about the children's welfare and had no plans to remove the children "prior to the parents' actions".

'Alien continent'

Following the December hearing, Mr Justice Hayden published a written ruling which said: "There has been much discussion about how those children came to be put on that plane in that alarming and, in my view, quite brutal manner.

"The burden for looking after the two younger ones appears to have been placed on the 15-year-old.

"The children's final destination was Karachi. That took them by Islamabad. One cannot begin to imagine the anxiety that that trip must have caused to those children.

"It is not difficult for any adult member of the public to understand why, when a family feels the local authority to be circling in, they might panic and run away together to evade the consequences of intervention. I do not for a moment condone that, of course. But I do understand it.

"What is far more difficult to understand is the parents who would put a three-year-old on a plane to an alien continent in this way. They must both have become very removed from their children's most basic emotional needs."

Heathrow Airport would not comment on the case but said parents could book unaccompanied children on an airline and their staff would escort them through security.

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