Newspapers shed little light as to why a father convicted to three years and two months behind bars for the kidnapping of his own daughter should have left court smiling, but it may have quite a bit to do with the fact that it means he could be free within a few months.
Paulo Guiomar – held in jail since September 2014 – has already been behind bars awaiting trial for almost half the sentence he received yesterday at Faro court.
Thus he is almost certain to qualify for parole before the spring.
In the meantime, defence lawyer Ricardo Serrano Vieira has intimated he will be appealing the decision, which saw Guiomar’s mother and ally in the two-year flight from justice given a suspended two and a half year sentence.
Vieira told journalists that he had hoped his clients would be dealt with equally.
The truth, however, is that 10-year-old Maria Alice still bears the scars of the two-year ordeal that saw her hidden away in apartments, deprived of a normal life and even disguised to look like a boy.
Passing sentence, the court said the kidnapping “should never have happened because it caused Maria Alice enormous upsets from which she has still not recovered”.
Talking to reporters outside the courtroom, the child’s mother and sole guardian Carla Evangelista said she really didn’t know if the sentence was sufficient.
“If I look at my daughter now, I don’t know if I think it was enough,” were her words.
Maria Alice is still receiving psychological support since being returned to her mother and her former life in Tavira last year. She learnt at the time that she had the baby brother she had always longed for. But the extent of her trauma was already evident (see Maria Alice: mother calls for privacy as child is “deeply affected”).
Meantime, little is explained over what kind of access Guiomar and his mother Maria Dolores may have with Maria Alice in the future.
Guiomar, a former maritime police agent, was absolved of the crimes of abandoning his post and possessing an illegal firearm.