Dad gets 6 months
Abducted son to Mexico and U.S. in custody battle
The Toronto Sun, Gretchen Drummie, February 24, 1995
A Scarboro dad abducted his son and took him out of the country for 3 1/2 years has been jailed for six months.
"The crime of taking a child from a parent is particularly disturbing because often it is motivated by misguided love for the child." Mr. Justice David McCombs said yesterday, a year to the day after the boy and his mom were reunited.
He said parents considering such action "must know they will face serious consequences even when their behaviour is motivated by love and concern for their child."
McCombs admitted, however that he struggled with determining the right sentence for Pablo Mendez, noting this was one of the most difficult cases he's encountered. He said the abduction happened within a "passionate battle" between the parents over the child. He said a bitterly fought war evolved into allegations of death threats, abuse and even violence.
Mendez, 33, of Scarboro was convicted of being in contravention of custody provisions by taking his son Pablito, now six, out of the jurisdiction on September 23, 1990 and keeping him from his mother Tatiana.
Court heard Mendez pretended he was going on vacation, cleaned out his apartment, rook Pablito and caught a bus to Buffalo before flying to Mexico. He spent months there before moving to San Francisco where he was spotted on a Child Find poster.
McCombs said he heard allegations of violence and abuse by each side and there was evidence of a "bitter" dispute in which "chaos" reigned.
The judge said he took into consideration the mother's actions when determining the sentence. He said she "probably" had threatened Mendez. He also said she was subsequently convicted herself for abducting and beating her mother-in-law after Pablito went missing.
McComb said before the abductions the mother had taken the boy to Bolivia by forging Mendez's signature on a passport application.
McCombs said the father may well have believed he or his child were in imminent danger but that didn't excuse him for not pursuing alternate action.