Baby-snatch solicitor's sentence cut

A solicitor jailed for 20 months for snatching his own baby daughter from care workers has won an eight-month reduction on his sentence.

A solicitor jailed for 20 months for snatching his own baby daughter from care workers has won an eight-month reduction on his sentence.

Jonathan Kelsham Phillips, 40, of Lynn Road, Downham Market, punched two female care workers, one of them heavily pregnant, before speeding off in his car with the baby, London's Criminal Appeal Court heard yesterday.

He admitted kidnap and two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm at Norwich Crown Court and was jailed by a judge in November.

But yesterday three judges in London said the sentence on the solicitor and family man was "manifestly excessive" and would be cut to one year, which means he could be released after serving six months.

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The baby girl had been taken into the care of foster parents due to social services' fears about the mental health of the girl's mum, Phillips' wife Erica, Lord Justice Richards told the court.

The couple were allowed to see their daughter in supervised access sessions at a family contact centre in King's Lynn, but there was a build-up of tension between Phillips and staff there.

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On August 17, the couple went to the centre to visit their daughter and were taken into a private room with two care workers.

Phillips snapped and threw a table across the room and at a wall before punching one of the workers, who was six-months pregnant at the time, in the face.

He punched the other woman in the mouth before fleeing with his wife and daughter.

Stopped by police on the M6 motorway near Birmingham, Phillips said he had "snapped" and knew what he did was wrong.

He claimed that he and his wife had been the victims of a long pattern of "provocative and inappropriate" treatment by social services and had grown angrier.

The couple had been in a relationship 10 years and were married last year but she suffered from mental health problems and had been taken into a psychiatric hospital, leading to the baby being taken from them when she was born.

Mark Shelley, representing Phillips, argued that the 20-month sentence was too long in total.

He argued the sentencing judge had been wrong to impose separate consecutive sentences for the kidnapping and assault charges, when they were part of the same incident.

Phillips had also suffered a particularly difficult time in prison and had had to be segregated, placed on the sex offenders' wing of the jail, for his own benefit.

Judge Richards said: "We accept that the total sentence here was too long, having regard to the very substantial mitigation available to sit in the balance against the seriousness of what he did on this one day.

"We take the view that the matter would properly be dealt with by imposing concurrent, rather than consecutive, sentences, recognising that what occurred formed part and parcel of one incident."

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