Ukrainian mother spared jail so she can rescue daughter stuck in Kyiv from conflict

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Ukrainian mother, 37, who violated a court order by bringing her daughter to Kiev in 2017 over an ‘abuse marriage’, is being spared jail so she can save her child from Russia’s bombing campaign

  • Desperate mother Olga Khomenko, 37, was accused of kidnapping her daughter when she fled an allegedly abusive marriage, taking her to Ukraine in 2017
  • She was given 72 hours to pick her up last week but only reached Poland
  • Khomenko pleaded guilty to kidnapping, received two-year suspended sentence
  • Judge Michael Kay said ‘simple humanity’ led him to rescue mother from prison

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A mother who admitted to bringing her daughter to Ukraine against a court order has been spared from prison so she can travel to the war-torn country to rescue her from the conflict.

Judge Michael Kay said “simple humanity” led him to spare Olga Khomenko from jail so she could get her daughter from the Kiev region amid a barrage of Russian shelling.

The 37-year-old was accused of kidnapping the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, by bringing her to Ukraine in 2017 after fleeing a marriage to her “abusive” husband who she claims is a violent man. marriage was.

Khomenko got 72 hours bail from the court last week to travel to Ukraine but only made it to the Polish border before he had to return to adhere to the time limit and desperately wanted to be sentenced quickly in hopes of getting her passport back to take another one. make an attempt.

At St Albans Crown Court on Friday, she pleaded guilty to kidnapping a child, risking a whopping five years behind bars. She was given a two-year suspended sentence.

Judge Michael Kay publicly said he wished her “good luck” in her quest to be reunited with the girl after she passed the verdict.

Desperate mother Olga Khomenko, 37, (pictured outside St Albans Crown Court on Friday) was spared jail time so she could return to Kiev and save her daughter

Desperate mother Olga Khomenko, 37, (pictured outside St Albans Crown Court on Friday) was spared jail time so she could return to Kiev and save her daughter

Khomenko left the court with a suitcase (pictured above) and intent on going straight to the Polish border to try and pick up her daughter

Khomenko left the court with a suitcase (pictured above) and intent on going straight to the Polish border to try and pick up her daughter

Khomenko left the court with a suitcase (pictured above) and intent on going straight to the Polish border to try and pick up her daughter

The court learned that the youngster currently lives in the region of the Ukrainian capital with her grandmother and “can hear the bombs raining”.

The couple had tried to flee the city by train, but their attempt was thwarted when the train station was bombed and they were turned back by Ukrainian soldiers.

Judge Michael Kay said: “This court is in an impossible situation. I cannot begin to understand the situation on the ground in the Kiev region.

“I imagine the system has broken down in terms of authority and enforcement of the rule of law. It is a hopeless situation, only really desperate measures can be taken.’

“I have never seen a sentencing exercise involving the issue of rescuing a child abroad. It’s a decision I’d be surprised if a Crown Court made sooner. These are extraordinary times,” he added.

“The criminal justice system must be humane.”

Judge Michael Kay said “simple humanity” led him to spare Olga Khomenko from jail so she can get her daughter from the Kiev region amid a barrage of Russian shelling

He said he was aware of the prosecution’s arguments, adding: “But simple humanity informs me that the only appropriate punishment is two years’ imprisonment, with a two-year reprieve.”

Khomenko, who was standing at the dock in a white turtleneck sweater and blue jeans, wept as the verdict was handed down.

Judge Kay ordered the immediate release of her passport, which is currently in the possession of authorities at Gatwick Airport, so that she can travel abroad.

Khomenko left the court with a briefcase and intended to go straight to the Polish border to try to pick up her daughter.

The court heard how she divorced her husband in 2015 after an alleged abusive marriage that resulted in her staying in women’s shelters several times.

Judge Kay, speaking at St Albans Crown Court (above), ordered the immediate release of her passport, which is currently being held by authorities at Gatwick Airport so that she can travel abroad

Judge Kay, speaking at St Albans Crown Court (above), ordered the immediate release of her passport, which is currently being held by authorities at Gatwick Airport so that she can travel abroad

Judge Kay, speaking at St Albans Crown Court (above), ordered the immediate release of her passport, which is currently being held by authorities at Gatwick Airport so that she can travel abroad

After settling in Ukraine with her daughter, she was finally extradited to the UK in 2020 after being arrested in Paris the year before under a European arrest warrant and awaiting trial since then, the court heard.

Prior to the sentencing, Stephen Vello QC, on defense, pleaded with the judge to issue the suspended sentence.

He said, “In short, this defendant is… [the daughter’s] best chance of escaping the war zone and if she fails to escape the war zone i hope its not exaggerated in any way, [the daughter’s] life may or may not last for months to come. It really is that important.’

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