A former maritime policeman jailed for three years only four months ago has dropped his appeal as it now seems certain that he will be freed next month.
Paulo Guiomar sparked a nationwide hunt in 2012 after vanishing with his then seven-year-old daughter Maria Alice.
Aided by his mother – who received a two-and-a-half year suspended sentence – he remained ‘on the run’ until 2014 while his daughter was raised in an attic apartment in Belgium, rarely going out, not allowed to socialise and not able to attend school.
The effects of the ordeal have left the child traumatised, judges have heard, and Guiomar and his mother are no longer allowed access to her.
But Guiomar has now spent over 18 months in preventive custody since being caught by police – initially still refusing to reveal Maria Alice’s whereabouts – so by law he will be eligible for parole in April, writes Correio da Manhã.
According to the paper, it is this imminent likelihood of freedom that caused him to drop his appeal against the jail term handed out in November.
After the sentencing, Maria Alice’s mother and sole guardian was asked whether she thought Guiomar’s prison sentence was sufficient.
She told reporters: ““If I look at my daughter now, I don’t know if I think it was enough.”
Next month, the same court is expected to announce its decision on a much more high-profile case of parental kidnapping, involving British child Giselle (“Ellie”) Kelly Silva.
Ellie was kept in an apartment in Porto after her Vilamoura businessman father Filipe decided not to return her to her mother, also in 2012.
The seven-month kidnap hit international headlines as Ellie’s desperate mother Candice appealed for help to find her daughter.
She has since been reunited with her mother, stepfather and siblings and the family now live in Ireland.
They did not return to Portugal for Silva’s trial, which only got underway last year – opting instead to give evidence via videolink.