Mother of girl, five, ‘kidnapped’ on US holiday by partner she met on co-parenting website says her daughter is ‘trapped in hotels’ as the fugitive father is given one final chance to return the girl and avoid jail

The mother of a five-year-old girl who was ‘kidnapped’ while on holiday in the US by the partner she met on a co-parenting website has revealed her daughter was ‘trapped in hotels’.

The fugitive father was given one last chance this week to return the girl – or face immediate jail time.

Natalie Kennedy was 36 and worried about her body clock when she met Philip Thomas, who was 11 years her senior, on an unregulated co-parenting website.

Ms Kennedy, now 43, said IT consultant Thomas, 54, had defied court orders by refusing to return their daughter Alice to the UK, leaving her ‘heartbroken and in despair’.

She has not seen her daughter for more than four months since he took her on a two-week holiday to the States, following a long-running dispute over access arrangements for him to see her.

Miss Kennedy said Mr.  Thomas allowed her to have a handful of Zoom conversations with their daughter who seemed 'unhappy' to be with him in Dubai

Miss Kennedy said Mr. Thomas allowed her to have a handful of Zoom conversations with their daughter who seemed ‘unhappy’ to be with him in Dubai

Miss Kennedy has not seen her daughter for more than four months since he took her on a two-week holiday to the United States

Miss Kennedy has not seen her daughter for more than four months since he took her on a two-week holiday to the United States

Miss Kennedy said IT consultant Philip Thomas, 54, had defied court orders by refusing to return their daughter Alice to the UK, leaving her 'heartbroken and in despair'.

Miss Kennedy said IT consultant Philip Thomas, 54, had defied court orders by refusing to return their daughter Alice to the UK, leaving her ‘heartbroken and in despair’.

Mr Thomas broke a court deal by not returning Alice to her mother’s home in Gorleston-on-Sea, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on August 6.

He then flew with Alice from Florida to Dubai on August 21 and has reportedly been with her in the city-state of the United Arab Emirates ever since.

Family court judges treated the case as ‘child abduction’ and issued four separate orders for Mr. Thomas issued to bring the youngster home – which was ignored despite the threat of a fine, imprisonment or seizure of assets if he failed to comply.

Miss Kennedy previously claimed Thomas said he did not comply as he was ‘scared’ of the consequences of returning and claimed his rights as a father were not properly taken into account.

Thomas has set up his own website called FairParentingUK and an associated podcast, which he uses to campaign for reforms to the UK’s family courts and what he sees as injustices in the system.

The High Court’s Family Division heard that Thomas’ whereabouts are unknown.

She told The times: ‘Alice is just trapped in hotel rooms. When I talk to her, I know she wants to come home, but she puts on a brave face.

Miss Kennedy, from Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, struggles to get her daughter Alice home from Dubai

Miss Kennedy, from Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, struggles to get her daughter Alice home from Dubai

Mr Thomas broke a court deal by not returning Alice to her mother's home in Gorleston-on-Sea, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on August 6.

Mr Thomas broke a court deal by not returning Alice to her mother’s home in Gorleston-on-Sea, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on August 6.

Miss Kennedy last saw her daughter when she dropped her off at school on the last day of term on July 21 this year, allowing Alice's father to pick her up.

Miss Kennedy last saw her daughter when she dropped her off at school on the last day of term on July 21 this year, allowing Alice’s father to pick her up.

Miss Kennedy said she had her daughter with Mr Thomas after meeting him on an unregulated co-parenting website which aims to match people who want to share raising a child

Miss Kennedy said she had her daughter with Mr Thomas after meeting him on an unregulated co-parenting website which aims to match people who want to share raising a child

Single mother Natalie Kennedy (43) is photographed with her daughter Alice during happier times

Single mother Natalie Kennedy (43) is photographed with her daughter Alice during happier times

She hadn't seen her daughter since Thomas took Alice on a two-week vacation to the United States

She hadn’t seen her daughter since Thomas took Alice on a two-week vacation to the United States

‘Philip is trying to blackmail (me) into giving in to his demands. He’s using Alice as a way to get what he wants.’

Thomas appeared to show little emotion as he appeared via video link as Mr. Justice Cusworth said: ‘To play with Alice as a pawn is not in her best interests’ and ‘Now is the time to bring Alice back to this country’.

Thomas was given a one-year prison sentence which was suspended until March 7 so he can have one last chance to return to the UK.

The judge added: ‘We must arrange for him to come to this country with Alice soon – for his sake, for her sake and for the sake of the mother. He can’t live on the run with Alice forever.’

Edward Bennett, representing Thomas, told the court: ‘His position is very clear. He is prepared to make a comeback in March if there is progress during mediation.’