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Man jailed for fifth time after leaving daughters in Libya loses sentence appeal

Appeal judges outlined their decision in a written ruling (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Brian Farmer, PA

A man who took his two daughters from their mother and left them with relatives in Libya eight years ago has failed in an appeal bid after being jailed by a judge for a fifth time.

Sir Jonathan Cohen had handed Mohammed El Zubaidy a 12-month jail term at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London in December.

The judge concluded that El Zubaidy had breached orders made during a High Court fight with estranged wife Tanya Borg, who is in her 40s and from Pewsey, Wiltshire, and was in contempt.

Three appeal judges have dismissed an appeal against the sentence following a Court of Appeal hearing in London.

El Zubaidy, who is also in his 40s, argued that the sentence imposed by Sir Jonathan was “manifestly excessive in all the circumstances”.

Lord Justice Bean, Lord Justice Moylan and Lord Justice Lewis disagreed, and said Sir Jonathan had not made any “error”.

They have outlined their decision in a written ruling.

Ms Borg has been fighting to get Angel El Zubaidy, now 22, and her 11-year-old sister, Maya, back to Britain since El Zubaidy left them with his mother in Tripoli in early 2015, judges have heard.

She had taken High Court action in London and her eldest daughter has been classified as a “vulnerable” adult by judges.

Orders were aimed at reuniting Ms Borg with her daughters and Sir Jonathan described the case as “about as bad” as it was “possible to imagine”.

Four other judges had previously handed El Zubaidy jail terms, of 12 months and two years, after also concluding he had breached orders aimed at getting his daughters back home to their mother.

Ms Borg had complained, earlier this year, that he was still in breach of orders and asked Sir Jonathan to impose a fifth jail sentence.

El Zubaidy had been given a 12-month term in 2017, separate jail terms of two years and 12 months in 2018, and another 12-month term in 2021.

Ms Borg and El Zubaidy had met two decades ago, judges have heard.

She was born in Malta, and he was born in Libya.

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