A UK judge has sided with a British mother against her Spanish ex-husband.
Jennifer Jones sparked a media frenzy in 2012 when she went on the run with four of her five children on the day that they were supposed to be returned to their father at Cardiff railway station.
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Spanish soldier Tomas Palacin Cambra, 54, said ex-wife Jennifer Jones, 47, was in contempt of court and should be committed to prison.
However, the court has ruled in favour of Llanelli-born Ms Jones and spared her a jail sentence following an emotive letter from one of her children.
High Court judge Sir James Munby described Jessica’s account of her family’s trouble as ‘one of the saddest things’ he had ever heard.
Daughter Jessica, 16, told the presiding High Court Family Division judge she would rather die than go to Spain to live with her father.
The youngest two children, Eva, 10, and David, eight, now live with their father and eldest sister Sara, 17, in Spain but Jessica and Tomas, 14, refused to go back. All of the children were born in Britain.
Jessica, who is due to sit her GCSEs this year, revealed that she is scared of her father, who has a bad temper, and would consider suicide if she was forced to return.
When asked how she would feel if her mother was jailed, Jessica replied: “I’d have a break down. There’s nothing my mum could have said or done to have made us go back to Spain.
“I don’t understand why he would want to put mum in jail. This is just too much.”
The custody battle has been long-running and upsetting following the breakdown of the marriage between Ms Jones and Spanish army officer Tomas Palacin Cambra in 2008.
Outside London’s High Court Ms Jones said:
“This victory, if that is what it is, feels very hollow, because at the heart of this terribly sad matter are five children who are no longer together as a family as they should be.
“It’s so hard on all of them. They should be together, playing and smiling and doing all the things siblings do together.
“I will never give up fighting to reunite them.”
A judge ruled that the children could be identified when appealing for help in tracing them in October 2012. Once they were found after a five day search Court of Appeal judges concluded that there would be no way of re-applying anonymity because of the amount of publicity the case had received.