Rebeca Rezende Boyle – Timeline
Date Incidents

15 Dec 1992 I leave Brazil after separating from my wife, Mara Silvia Oliveira Rezende. At the custody hearing, my ex-wife got custody of Rebeca, despite being unemployed, and I was told to pay £180 (calculated by the judge in sterling, not cruzados) per month child support. I was also told I could visit Rebeca one Sunday afternoon every two weeks. I had no home and no job and was being expected to do this in a foreign country. I signed and went home to try and rebuild my life.

January – June 1993 Living in London, sleeping on friend’s floor. Intermittent contact by phone from Mara to demand money. I send it when I can, but have no regular work. I get no acknowledgement of having sent this money.

6 June 1993 I get full-time work. I set up an account for Rebeca in the UK and put the money agreed in it every month. Still no confirmation of this from Mara, who I have to contact through her father and mother at their address in Itu.

June 1994 I visit Brazil unannounced and am denied access to Rebeca by Mara when I turn up at our old flat. She leads me on a wild goose chase around São Paulo and I eventually meet up with Rebeca in a church hall in the Av. Pompeia. Mara then proceeds to take me back with her and Rebeca in a brand new car to our old flat where I stay overnight on the sofa in the living room. The time with Rebeca is bittersweet. I give Mara some money, leave on good terms and she promises to stay in touch and acknowledge the money that I send every month.

October 1996 After two more years of intermittent contact by telephone with Rebeca that I have to struggle to get, and after Mara’s continuing to refuse to acknowledge the money I sent, I decided to get a divorce in English law. My lawyer informs Mara’s lawyers in Brazil but there is no response. Only after the decree nisi has been delivered does Mara’s mother write a letter to the Family Court in London.

April 1999 I remarry.

December 1999 I send Christmas presents to Rebeca. No response.

1999 – 2002 Intermittent and sporadic contact with Rebeca and Mara by phone. I continue to put the money in Rebeca’s account in the UK, knowing that Mara’s family are more than rich enough to take care of Rebeca’s needs. I send presents at Christmas and birthdays and also send letters but there is no response.

March 2002 Mara calls me and tells me that she still loves me. I tell her that I have remarried. She shrieks and screams hysterically and Rebeca starts crying too. The line goes dead and I have not spoken to Mara or Rebeca since. I do not know where they are and I have no proof that Rebeca is alive. Every attempt at contact has been met by a wall of silence.

2002 – 2003 I find email contacts online and ask them to pass messages on. There is a wall of silence. I send postcards and letters to all family and friends. There is no response. 

I send a letter to the gatehouse guards at the condominium that Mara’s parents live at and ask them to deliver it directly to Rebeca. No response.


11 Oct 2003 I email Milton Pessoa Rezende asking him to get someone to mediate between Mara and me. No response.

October 2003 I email Marcio Rezende, ex- father-in-law’s brother. No response.

July 2004 Send birthday card and present to Rebeca through family. No response.

July 2004 Call Milton Pessoa Rezende, ex-father-in-law, at his workplace to try and make contact with Rebeca and Mara. Milton is positive and promises that if I come to Brazil, he will take me to visit them.

August 2004 I write letters to Milton and Mara and Rebeca and send them through Milton. There is no response.

23 Feb 2005 Called the Rezendes’ home. They put the phone down without talking to me.

24 Feb 2005 Email Milton Pessoa Rezende through his secretary asking him to contact Mara. No response.

8 Mar 2005 Receive response from Milton Pessoa Rezende’s secretary asking me to contact Milton at his home after 14 March.

15 Mar 2005 I call and they put the phone down.

15 July 2005 I travel to Brazil to try and see my daughter. Call Maria Josefina Oliveira Rezende from my hotel and ask her to contact Mara. She agrees. Ten minutes later I get a call from her lawyers.

July 2005 I contract a Brazilian lawyer, Roger Loureiro Dos Santos. He says that it is merely a matter of negotiating a financial arrangement.

July 2005 I put in a denuncia against Mara Silvia Oliveira Rezende with the Policia Civil in Sao Paulo. I give a copy to Mara’s mother’s lawyer – Dr Luis Antonio.


14 July 2005 Roger Loureiro Dos Santos informs me that Rebeca’s ‘family’ have nothing against her seeing me, but that she needs to be psychologically prepared.

25 July 2005 I meet with Dr Roger and Dr Luis Antonio. Luis Antonio says Rebeca has gone through mental trauma and therapy. The inference is that it is my fault. It is clear that the issue of money is merely a smokescreen and that they do not want me to see Rebeca.

2 Aug 2005 I return to the UK without seeing my daughter. I leave presents for Rebeca with him.

9 Aug 2005 I send 1992 separation documents to Roger.

22 Aug 2005 Roger asks for more documents. I send them.

24 Aug 2005 Roger says there’s no response from Dr Luis Antonio or Maria Joefina. Asks for money to be deposited for legal fees.

8 Sep 2005 Email Roger to tell him money has been transferred.

19 Sep 2005 Roger sends copy of petition that he intends to lodge with the court. No proof that it has been lodged.

13 Oct 2005 Email from Roger asking how I am.

19 Oct 2005 Email from Roger saying there’s no response from Rebeca’s family yet.

20 Oct 2005 Roger emails, says that there will be news before Christmas.

25 Oct 2005 Roger emails. Says the prosecutor has summonsed Maria Josefina to provide Mara’s current address.

28 Nov 2005 Still no news from Roger about Mara’s address.

23 Mar 2006 I email Roger. Roger emails back. Still no news.

27 Mar 2006 I email Ana Armond at British Consulate in SP. This is the start ‘in-earnest’ of my current attempts. Ana responds the same day. Says Ma Josefina says I always knew how to contact my daughter and that they have no objections. She’s surprised at involvement of UK consulate. 

Email reply from Lauro de Marco at criancasdesaparecidas@sedh.gov.br – SEDH. Tells me it’s a case of irregular transfer of custody and that I should contact the promotoria da infância in the local court.


28 Mar 2006 Roger emails. Says I need patience. Says that after Rebeca is 14 I will have the right to have her with me in the UK for a visit, but still no news. 

Lauro de Marco emails again. Says that I have the right to exercise joint custody under article 21 of the Estatuto da Criança e Adolescente. He forwards my emails to a researcher at Universidade de Sao Paulo, Dra Gilka, but there is no response.


5 Apr 2006 Email Ana Armond. Out of office.

7 April 2006 Email Milton Pessoa Rezende. No response.

19 Apr 2006 British Consulate emails. Ana Armond says she will do a welfare check and if the family refuses she will visit her school. I respond thanking her very much.

5 May 2006 I email Neil Gerrard, my Member of Parliament, to ask for help.

17 May 2006 Response from Neil Gerrard, MP, saying he’ll contact the Foreign Office. Suggests Reunite (!)

8 May 2006 I send another email to Milton Pessoa Rezende. No response. 

I email Roger’s daughter and secretary. Still no news.

I email Ana Armond at British Consulate for an update. Ana responds saying the family refused the visit and promised a welfare report through their lawyer. She has called every day for a week but it has not turned up. I respond asking her to take the matter higher up. She responds by asking me to contact REUNITE, a UK-based charity. She then passes my case to the Consular Directorate in London.

I email Lauro de Marco at criancasdesaparecidas.


10 May 2006 Milton replies. Tells me only to deal with my lawyer. I reply saying that there is no orientation from the lawyer and that he knows this because he and his wife have blocked everything. Roger emails. Still no news. I email back.

12 May 2006 I email Ana at British Consulate asking for welfare report. No response. 

Wendy Newsum from Consular Directorate at the Foreign Office contacts me, advises me to go through Hague Convention, contract a Brazilian lawyer of contact International Social Services. Sends me a child abduction leaflet. They miss the point completely and try to backtrack on Ana Armond’s offer of a welfare check. She says she will be my direct point of contact but ignores all the points I make about the case so far.


16 May 2006 Wendy Newsum says that the civil unrest in Sao Paulo will affect how quickly they can respond. I say I understand. 

Roger emails. Says there’ll be a meeting between him and Luis Antonio. Says that Maria Josefina is irritated that I have ‘put the case on the internet’ (!) (I haven’t).

I email Milton again. No response.


17 May 2006 I respond to Roger. Maybe Ma Josefina is confused about what email is and what the Internet is. I say my patience has run out.

19 May 2006 Milton responds negatively by email. Tells me to go back to lawyer, that he never promised anything.

22 May 2006 Email Roger telling him about email of 19 May from Milton and passing on my comments. I email Milton. No response. Email Roger. No response.

2 June 2006 Email Roger’s daughter and secretary to ask him to respond.

6 June 2006 Wendy Newsum tells me to contact Department of Constitutional Affairs.

8 June 2006 Email Roger with proposal for Mara. No response.

13 June 2006 Email Roger. Still no response. Email Milton, no response.

14 June 2006 Roger emails. Says my proposal has gone to Dr Luis Antonio. 

Wendy Newsum sends letter saying there is nothing the Foreign Office can do. I respond with further points that Foreign Office is missing the point of what I am saying. I pass on relevant contact details for Rebeca’s family. Case is passed to Alex Pykett at the Child Abduction Unit of the Foreign Office.


16 June 2006 I email Jornal Periscopio in Itu, SP to ask for address of Civil Police in Itu. They give it to me. 

I email pessoasdesaparecidas@ssp.sp.gov.br asking them to help locate Rebeca.


17 June 2006 I email photo of Rebeca aged 2 to pessoasdesaparecidas@ssp.sp.gov.br

19 June 2006 I ask Alex Pykett to contact the Policia Civil in Itu, SP to locate Rebeca. I have no idea where she is. They keep going back through Ma Josefina even though she keeps blocking and has no legal rights and refuses to divulge Rebeca’s whereabouts. 

Email Neil Gerrard, MP, asking for electronic copy of letter.


20 June 2006 Email Roger with statement to be sent to press and police in Brazil. Roger responds and sets up phone call.

21 June 2006 Roger arranges MSN conversation through his daughter. 

Alex Pykett offers to write to in-laws through Roger to ask for Rebeca’s whereabouts.


23 June 2006 Roger emails. Says it’s hard to get the timing right.

28 June Email of letter from Neil Gerrard, MP, saying that Foreign Office is doing all it can.

29 June 2006 Meeting between Roger, Ma Josefina and Milton Pessoa Rezende. He gives them my presents for Rebeca. They say there’s no chance of a meeting.

7 July 2006 Milton replies. Says sorry that he couldn’t fulfil his promise to take me to visit Mara and Rebeca.

20 July 2006 I email Milton again. No response.

28 July 2006 Roger emails me asking me to contact him. 

I make Freedom of Information Act request to Foreign Office through Alex Pykett.


1 Aug 2006 Alex Pykett acknowledges FOI request and says he cannot contact the Brazilian police or the Dept of Constitutional Affairs for me.

2 Aug 2006 Sylvia Edohasim at Foreign Office acknowledges FOI request.

4 Aug 2006 Roger emails and says that Ma Josefina has presented her own address as Mara’s official address. Says they will not allow contact except through a court order and are going to allege that Rebeca has mental problems because of me. Suggests audience with judge including me and Rebeca. I ask how long it will take.

6 Aug 2006 Email Milton again. No response.

7 Aug 2006 Roger responds that there’s no way of knowing how long an audience will take to set up.

8 Aug 2006 I email Wendy McLean at the Office of the Official Solicitor in London.

9 Aug 2006 I email and send documents to Nadine Schmitt at International Social Services. 

Send documents by post to Office of the Official Solicitor.


11 Aug 2006 Roger presents petition to court.

30 Aug 2006 Email Roger asking for truce and more information since the atmosphere is becoming strained. 

I email Alex Pykett to confirm that he has promised both me and my MP, Neil Gerrard that he will call or write to Mara and try and speak to her. He subsequently denies that he said this. MP confirms that he said it.


31 Aug 2006 Roger agrees to ‘truce’.

4 Sep 2006 Email Roger again.

28 Sep 2006 Receive FOI data substantially redacted. I appeal the redaction. It indicates a ‘stitch up’ and a ‘whitewash’. Alex Pykett is being continuously coached and advised from above on what to say in the style of Yes Minister. I ask for an internal review. 

I email Neil Gerrard to tell him what Alex Pykett at the Foreign Office has done. I say I will not let it go.


29 Sep 2006 Hellen Kulazikulabe emails to say she is my case worker at International Social Services. 

Wendy McLean at Offsol asks for birth certificate and photo of Rebeca.

I contact Patricia de Texeira Lamego Soares at SEDH in Brazil directly in Portuguese. She replies that Mara has contacted them to say she finds it strange that I am using this route when there is already a lawyer on the case. She is told that she should not impede contact.

I email Neil Gerrard again about Alex Pykett’s broken promise. Pykett had said that they would get Interpol to check on Rebeca’s location as well.


30 Sep 2006 I ask for clarification as to whether it is Mara or her mother who was talking on the phone. There’s a mix up over Mara and Maria.

6 Oct 2006 Patricia Lamego Soares says the central authority can’t act in this matter because I already have a lawayer and also asks why I haven’t tried to visit (I did, and was blocked and Rebeca has been hidden away for years!). She recommends another lawyer, David Figuereido because I’m having problems with Roger. She also says she will contact Interpol to locate Rebeca.

7 Oct 2006 I email Patricia Lamego Soares to explain that I’d been to Brazil and been blocked, that Mara’s mother had set up a bogus lawyer to keep me away when in fact it was she who was running the show and that their strategy was to lie and keep me away for as long as possible by ducking and diving. 

I email Alex Marinkovic at Offsol to ask why the Brazilian central authority did not know that I had visited Brazil in 2005 and been turned away.

 


9 Oct 2006 Patricia Lamego Soares says Interpol have confirmed that Mara and Rebeca’s address is the same as my ex-mother-in-law’s but that they cannot do a welfare visit to confirm that she is actually there. She also says that because I have not seen Rebeca for many years a judge would have to determine gradual visiting rights (in other words Mara stops me seeing Rebeca for many years and then they turn round and say ‘oh, you haven’t seen her for many years so therefore visits must be determined by a judge gradually). I think they call this a logical fallacy in reasoning.

11 Oct 2006 Alex Marinkovic explains that he sent part of my application to visit Rebeca to Patricia Lamego Soares and that he’d had it translated into ‘Brazilian’ (sic) but that he hadn’t had the info about my visit to Brazil translated. I respond that I am in a Catch22 situation because I cannot now proceed with the Hague Convention. I explain again that Mara and her mother are simply ducking and diving, lying and changing their story all the time.

12 Oct 2006 I email Alex and patricia Lamego Soares to say that David Figueiredo tells me I can switch lawyers and that I can follow a Hague Convention route. Therefore, it should be no problem for me to dismiss Roger and ask the central authority to take on my case.

16 Oct 2006 Email Roger to tell him what I’ve found out about rights under the Hague Convention. No response. 

Alex Pykett of Foreign Office writes denying that he offered to write to or call Mara.


19 Oct 2006 Patricia Lamego Soares emails to say that the central authority cannot take on the case because there is already a lawsuit underway in the state courts in SP and you can’t have two cases at the same time about the same child.

20 Oct 2006 I email Hellen at ISS to ask for progress report. 

I email Patricia Lamego Soares patiently explaining that David Figueiredo, a lawyer recommended by her, has said that I can drop the current case, switch lawyers and pursue a Hague Convention case. If he can do it, why not the central authority? It is illogical.

I email Neil Gerrard again to urge him to persuade Alex Pykett to do what he promised.


23 Oct 2006 Hellen emails to say there has been no contact from Suzanna Malinski, Brazilian social services correspondent. Hellen has contacted ISS in Geneva and confirms her emails are being read in Brazil 

Alex Marinkovic at Offsol closes my file. Says he cannot compel the Brazilian central authority to act. Patricia Lamego Soares says she has consulted a federal attorney who says that they would not take my case on. I object to his closing the case with a very reasoned explanation which he and Patricia Lamego Soares ignore.

I go to see Neil gerrard at his constituency surgery. He confirms that Alex Pykett had promised to contact Mara to try and persuade her to come to an arrangement and then suggests the parliamentary Ombudsmen. He says that this route never fails.


25 Oct 2006 Alex Marinkovic pleads ignorance of Brazilian law and says that the central authority and David Figueiredo must sort it out themselves. He will keep the case open for ‘a few weeks’ but must accept their decision. 

I respond by telling him that Offsol is involved in this and has a duty of care to me as a British citizen. They are ignoring the fact that the Brazilian central authority’s position is illogical. He asks for the lawyer’s details to pass to the central authority. I tell him that this lawyer was actually recommended by Ms Lamego Soares herself.


27 Oct 2006 Internal review at Foreign Office upholds the redaction of the FOI data.

30 Oct 2006 Alex Marinkovic passes on message from Patricia Lamego Soares saying that she and David Figueiredo are of the same opinion. I cannot pursue a Hague Convention case because the matter is being dealt with in the local court. It’s a stitch up.

27 Nov 2006 Neil Gerrard MP sends me Parliamentary Ombudsman forms. I complete them and the Ombudsman’s office says they must go through my MP.

29 November 2006 Parliamentary Ombudsman’s office sends more information. 

 


4 December 2006 Neil Gerrard’s secretary sends me Ombudsman forms.

19 December 2006 Neil Gerrard’s secretary calls me to ask about my Ombudsman application.

21 December 2006 MP’s secretary calls again to say that I’ve missed a bit out. Then emails to say that I had in fact completed it.

11 Dec 2006 Email Roger asking him to halt action. Replace him with another lawyer, Dr David Figueiredo.

12 Dec 2006 Roger responds. Contacts Dr David. Copies me into legal petition that he’s put in today.

9 Jan 2007 I email Hellen at ISS to ask if there’s any point continuing with Brazilian social services.

12 Jan 2007 Hellen at ISS responds complaining about poor performance from Brazilian social services. Says the Geneva office has concerns about it. Asks Brazil for update and asks if I wish to pursue it.

23 Jan 2007 Alex Marinkovic forwards me a fax from Patricia Lamego Soares dated 25th August 2006 confirming that the central authority contacted Mara and informed Interpol. 

I send further information to do with failure of Foreign Office to do what they promised to Joe Scott at the Parliamentary Ombudsman for consideration.


25 Jan 2006 Hellen at ISS out of office for one month until 21 Feb.

6 Feb 2007 Roger emails. No response to him from David Figueiredo. I respond saying I have given up on Brazilian lawyers. 

I email Patricia Lamego Soares, Alex Marinkovic, Neil Gerrard, Hellen Kulazikulabe and Alex Pykett summarising the situation to date and my view of it. There is no response from any of them.


7 February 2007 I send further information about my attempts to contact Rebeca to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

14 Feb 2007 I forward email of 6 Feb to Neil Gerrard – had mistyped his address – and tell him that to say I was at my wits’ end now had no more meaning since I had been saying it and had been ignored for years.

10 March 2007 I receive letter from Parliamentary Ombudsman rejecting my complaint. I email asking for electronic version. 

I make a Freedom of Information Act request and a Data Protection Act request for information relating to the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s deliberations.


11 March 2007 I email Patricia Lamego Soares to ask for clarification of Central Authority position re: Hague Convention, since David Figueiredo has been unable to get Roger to transfer the case. The Parliamentary Ombudsman is also reviewing the matter. There is no response.

12 March 2007 Joe Scott responds saying my request has been forwarded.

13 March 2007 Electronic copy of decision letter from Parliamentary Ombudsman. The Foreign Office did not do anything wrong (!)

14 March 2007 Parliamentary Ombudsman treat my FOI and DPA requests as an appeal to be considered by Ann Abrahams, the Ombudsman. They say that a review will only be undertaken if she decides the previous consideration was flawed. Why?

14 May 2007 Email Milton again. No response.

18 June 2007 Suzanna Malinski of SESIRS, Brazilian Social services informs ISS in London that judge in Itu, Andrea Ribeiro Borges, had refused information. They will pursue the matter through Social Services in Itu. Says this was done on 14 June.

25 June 2007 Hellen of ISS passes on Suzanna Malinski’s email to me.

16 July 2007 Email Milton again. No response. Send flowers and card by Interflora to Rebeca through Milton’s workplace. No confirmation.

17 July 2007 I ask the Parliamentary Ombudsman for electronic copies of their DPA and FOI responses.

18 July 2007 Email from parliamentary Ombudsman providing electronic copies of DPA and FOI requests.

26 July 2007 Email from Parliamentary Ombudsman saying there was no maladministration by the Foreign Office or the Official Solicitor.

27 July 2007 Milton replies. Says that no flowers had been received.

2 August 2007 Milton responds by email with character assassination attacking me.

5 August 2007 I email Milton saying that I will not contact him or Mara or Rebeca again until Rebeca is ready to decide for herself. Also apologise for any upset or harm I may have caused.

9 Aug 2007 I email the Parliamentary Ombudsman again with further information from an email sent by my ex-father-in-law claiming that the consulate had never officially contacted them. I also reiterate that Alex Pykett had promised to contact my wife and that Ana Armond had promised to visit my daughter and carry out a welfare check. I get an email in return saying that my comments will be considered.

17 Sep 2007 Sra Tasca Mendes of Itu social services sends Boletim Relatorio to SESIRS.

2 Nov 2007 Boletim relatorio from Brazilian social services details repeated attempts to see my daughter have been rebuffed by Mara and her parents. They say all contact must be made through a lawyer. Araci Lopes Oliveira (Later I discover that this lawyer did not agree to this and that Mara had posed as her on the phone to social services). Nobody from social services has managed to speak to Rebeca directly.

8 Nov 2007 I email ISS UK and Hellen again cites slowness of Brazilian side. I notice while surfing Internet for information that Dra Tasca Mendes, the social worker in Itu, has died.

10 Dec 2007 Alex Marinkovic emails me asking me to call him. I call him. He says he needs me to sign a letter of authority.

21 Dec 2007 Alex Marinkovic emails me letter of authority to sign and asks for a proposal on access to Rebeca from me.

4 Jan 2008 Alex Marinkovic emails saying he’s attached letter of authority, but it isn’t attached.

8 Jan 2008 Alex Marinkovic emails letter saying that my request has been sent to Brazilian Central Authority.

Jan 2008 I email a detailed proposal on access to Rebeca and payment of child support to Araci Ferreira Alves Lopes de Oliveira, the lawyer who I was told by Brazilian social services to deal through. There is no response.

29 Feb 2008 Alex Marinkovic confirms Central Authority have sent notification letter to Mara and are awaiting response. I ask for a copy of the notification.

3 Mar 2008 Alex Marinkovic emails to say that the Central Authority have had a response from Mara saying that Rebeca has been adopted by her step father. This is the first I have heard. He asks me to confirm whether it is true. How would I know?! She also says that Rebeca is nearly 16 and cannot be forced to see me.

13 Mar 2008 I receive a copy of a letter to Mara from the Central Authority notifying her of my Hague Convention application dated 12 February 2008.

9 Apr 2008 I call the Central Authority and speak with Lalisa Froeder Dittrich in Portuguese. She sends me her contact details. 

She emails me a long explanation of how the Hague Convention works and how it is possible that Rebeca has been adopted and my patrio poder removed without my consent. She also says that there are very few lawyers acting in Hague Convention cases.


10 Apr 2008 I email Araci Ferreira Alves Lopes de Oliveira, the lawyer who I was told by Brazilian social services to deal through, outlining how Rebeca has been illegally and fraudulently adopted and that Mara had said that I was prohibited from entering Brazil. She denies having anything to do with the matter of my daughter. I respond and say that this is clearly untrue from the information I have from Social Services in Itu – SP. 

She says that someone is impersonating her (I wonder who).

Lalisa Froeder Dittrich emails saying that there is no law in Brazil which prohibits entry to the country and that she always had my UK address through the Central Authority. She says the Central Authority can provide a letter saying Mara has acted in bad faith.

Lalisa also emails me with the addresses of other lawyers, saying that I should not assume that all lawyers in Brazil act in the same way (one of these lawyers is David Figueiredo). She says I really must contract another private lawyer.

I email Hellen at ISS UK, copying her into correspondence with Social services. Hellen again says they are tied down by Brazilian side.

Cecilia, a Brazilian friend, locates phone number for the putative partner of Mara, who lives at Rua Feliciano Ciochi numero 113 ap 2 VI Ema, S José dos Campos SP. I call the number and he is very cagey, refuses to confirm his identity citing ‘reasons of security in a country like Brazil’.


28 Apr 2008 I call Lalisa Froeder Dittrich again and I say I am worried that Mara will play for time, delay until Rebeca is 16 and then we will not be able to move ahead. I also say I have no proof that this adoption has actually occurred. Lalisa emails me to say that they’ll give Mara 10 days to produce the adoption papers and that they’ll then go ahead with The Hague Convention case at the AGU.

15 May 2008 I watch BBC Missing Persons programme on TV. I call the number and speak to a woman. She says she will check to see if there is an Interpol search for Rebeca. There isn’t. I email Lailisa for an update (why do I have to keep checking up on her?) and ask for an Interpol reference number. Lalisa emails to say that Mara has asked for more time. She is going to give her another week! She also says that Interpol did not actually confirm Mara and Rebeca’s address, but that the CA’s letters are arriving at the address of her mother – Maria Josefina Oliveira Rezende – so it is clear that Mara is receiving them. I pass on what ‘Missing Persons’ said about Rebeca. She has no Interpol reference number, but will check. I try to contact Interpol in Brasilia for two days without success. 

Lalisa emails again to say that they will not allow Mara to go over the following Monday, that they will send the case to the AGU in the afternoon if she does not provide the documents. She has not been able to contact Dr David Figueiredo either. As for Interpol, she says that a request was made in January 2008 to locate Rebeca but that she had not been located yet. There is no reference number – they do it by the name of the child, according to Lalisa. Why does the BBC say that there is nothing under Rebeca’s name, then?


16 May 2008 I go to the police station in Whitstable and register Rebeca as a missing person. I ask them to contact Interpol. They say they will call me. Later in the day, a police officer calls me and says that Kent Constabulary will not be taking the matter any further because it is a custody case.

29 May 2008 Lalisa emails to say that Interpol is working to locate Rebeca, but cannot provide me with a contact person. She also says that the case will go to the AGU before 20th June ‘to avoid claims that Rebeca is already 16’. She tells me not to worry – as long as the petition is in before Rebeca’s 16th birthday, it will go ahead. This is one month longer than the final date promised on 15th May. Is the CA conniving with Mara?

16 June 2008 Email through Alex Marinkovic from Patricia Lamego Soares saying that my case had been passed to the AGU on 26th May after I had petitioned for access rights. They will take a month to analyse the case.

15 July 2008 I call Lalisa. She is not there. I speak to a Stella Chamarelli, who says Lalisa has gone off on maternity leave and that there is also a postal strike in Brazil. She knows about the case though. Why have I not been informed about what is happening, then? I email her asking her why there has been no news. She ignores my email. 

I tell Hellen of ISS that I am going to Brazil on 22nd July to try and find Rebeca and I need a response from SESIRS, Brazil. She responds saying ISS UK is a charity and that quite honestly she does not expect SESIRS to respond before I go. UK international social services can do nothing about it.


16 July 2008 I email Stella Chamarelli again almost begging for her to answer me. I reiterate that I suspect that there is an issue over my Hague Convention request because they have delayed so long. I then email saying I am only asking for confirmation that she has received my emails. She responds with a terse ‘Mr. Martin Boyle, I confirm receipt of your e-mails.’

21 July 2008 Email from Alex Marinkovic saying that the AGU has rejected my case because Rebeca will be 16 in a few days! Exactly what I wanted to avoid and what I predicted would happen! He closes my file. 

I email Stella and ask for confirmation that because Mara has played them for so long they have run out of time with the Hague Convention – that I need confirmation so that I can apply for compassionate leave from work to travel to Brazil.


25 July 2008 I go to Brazil to try and find Rebeca. At the airport, I am taken into custody by two federal agents and imprisoned for non payment of child support. I am kept in a bare cell 3m x 4m with 15-20 other men and released after 15 days on a legal challenge. My father sent an initial payment of about £5000 to cover what was being asked for (they would not let me out of prison to get to my account to get the money myself – a true debtor’s jail). However, the amount suddenly went up and the Brazilian staff working at the British consulate were not clear or nuanced enough in their English when explaining to my father that the initial sum had been increased because of interest payments. My father suspected a scam and went to the press. When I was visited in prison by a Brazilian kid from the consulate, he brought me a yoghurt drink, a bar of soap, some shampoo and a comb (I am bald). I had to ask the lawyer who had been appointed to bring me cigarettes to use as currency. My stay in prison and the incompetence of the British Consulate while I was inside is another story. 

My lawyer, Alexandre Cerqueira, told me through the prison bars in front of my cellmates that my “patrio poder” had been removed and that I was no longer my daughter’s legal father but that I could still be sued for child support. He said Rebeca had been adopted and her name changed.

I was released after 15 days. I left without seeing my daughter. I was still under threat of rearrest. Apparently, when my ex-wife found out that I was inside, she jumped for joy and said she hoped I’d be deported without a stitch on my back. Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.


28 July 2008 Stella Chamarelli responds by telling me to contact Offsol – that all the information has been sent there. (I am already in prison in Brazil).

10 Aug 2008 I am released from prison suddenly and without warning on a successful legal challenge from my lawyer. However, I am only free while the case is considered. I can be rearrested.

15 Aug 2008 Alexandre emails me from Itu. The prosecutor has agreed to change the amount of the child support that I am supposed to owe and to annul my arrest warrant.

16 Aug 2008 Alexandre tells me to return to the UK immediately because my case was only considered by one out of three senior judges and I still run the risk of imprisonment. Tells me that my not paying child support and depositing the money in a UK account was a grave strategic error but also says that the judge in Itu initially upheld my imprisonment because she had not read the case notes correctly!

26 Aug 2008 I leave Brazil without having seen Rebeca. 

Email from Alexandre – in São José dos Campos there are two legal processes against me in the family court but they can’t be accessed. It’ll take 15 days to see them.


9 Sep 2008 I give Alexandre Right of Attorney in Brazil. He confirms that Rebeca had in fact been adopted in Brazil in 2005 and that I should not pay child support since I have no relationship to her in law.

10 Sep 2008 I ask Alexandre to get official statements from the Central Authority and the British Consulate proving what they had done to try and contact Mara and Rebeca.

13 Sep 2008 Alexandre says adoption documents prove that Mara and her partner falsified my address and had me summonsed in 2005 at the address that I had lived at in São Paulo in 1992. 

She has been adopted by a man called JOSÉ AUGUSTO DOS SANTOS SÁ, a man who I have never heard of and who has never attempted to identify himself to me.


15 Sep 2008 Alexandre apologises for being the bearer of bad news. Says I’ve been lied to over the years and that it’s going to take a long time to sort out. He says he’ll try to get the documents from social services in Itu but if I only have emails a court won’t accept these.

17 Sep 2008 Alexandre will try to get my prison sentence annulled and the child support payment changed.

1 Oct 2008 Alexandre says the judge in SJDC tried to prevent him seeing the adoption papers saying they were legal secrets – he appealed and got the documents.

16 Oct 2008 Alexandre had problems in the court at SJDC trying to get copies of all the legal documents. He finally got what he wanted and is hopeful that my prison sentence will be annulled.

21 Oct 2008 Ana Armond at the consulate agrees to provide Alexandre with statement but says that I must ask for it through the Foreign Office. We have to prove that I was doing everything possible to contact Rebeca while they were lying to me and having her adopted.

26 Oct 2008 Alexandre sends copies of the adoption papers. They prove that there have been lies and bad faith.

29 Oct 2008 Alexandre emails Lalisa Froeder Dittrich and Stella Chamarelli at the CA asking for a statement.

5 Nov 2008 Alexandre has had no reply from the CA. He’s been to Itu and the prosecutor agrees that I can’t be charged for child support after the adoption and that my arrest warrant be cancelled. It’s up to the judge though.

6 Nov 2008 Alexandre reiterates that he can only get statement from the consulate if I ask the Foreign Office directly. Ana is with him and she says this.

14 Nov 2008 Ana tells Alexandre again to tell me to ask for the documents directly from the Foreign Office and that she will give the information to Alexandre directly in São Paulo. She doesn’t say who I should ask. I need a contact number.

17 Nov 2008 Ana tells Alexandre that I should call the Foreign Office and ask for Neil Hulbert or Chris Tanassee and tell them exactly what I want. 

I call them and ask for a statement listing everything they had done to try and trace Rebeca.


15 Dec 2008 Alexandre is still asking for documentation from CA and from Foreign Office. They are not cooperating.

16 Dec 2008 Alexandre and I argue over whether emails are evidence or not. He says they are not evidence in Brazil.

October 2008 My lawyer, Alexandre Cerqueira, unearths separation and adoption papers proving that Rebeca had been fraudulently adopted by a man called Jose Augusto Dos Santos Sa, an employee of Petrobras, and subjected to a junk psychological test and parental alienation. Her name had been changed and my patrio poder removed without my knowledge or consent, yet I was still arrested and imprisoned for non-payment of child support.

29 October 2008 Alexandre emails SEDH asking for a statement about what had happened and what SEDH had done regarding my matter.

5 Nov 2008 I email Patricia Lamego Soares to ask for the letter the CA had promised stating that Mara had acted in bad faith.

17 Nov 2008 Patricia Lamego Soares says she sees no problem in letting my lawyer, Alexandre Cerqueira, have a letter stating what had happened. She is ‘profoundly sorry’ for my ‘troubles’ in Brazil.

19 Nov 2008 I email Hellen to ask for official statement on what has happened in the contact between ISS UK and SESIRS, Brazil.

12 Dec 2008 Hellen of ISS UK sends case notes overview. There is no further response at all from SESIRS in Brazil.

I receive a letter from the Foreign Office on plain paper. Very scrappy looking, listing some vague points about what the Foreign Office did to contact Rebeca and Mara. The tone seems exasperated and in bad grace, as if they are not happy to give it to me. I phone and complain saying that it is like I have to drag things out of them and that they are not acting in good grace or good faith. They send a new letter which sounds more helpful on better official paper.


16 Dec 2008 Hellen sends further signed copy of case overview on headed paper.

9 Jan 2009 Alexandre emails. Has been to Itu and they have annulled my arrest warrant, but he hasn’t got the redação He’s having problems getting my separation documents.

29 Jan 2009 Alexandre is waiting for the redação of the decision to annul my arrest warrant.

9 Feb 2009 CA finally sends Alexandre a statement. He thinks it is extremely positive.

11 Feb 2009 Alexandre has still not received the letter from ISS that I sent him. I sent it two weeks ago.

3 March 2009 Alexandre wants more original documents from me. Scanned copies are not enough.

29 Apr 2009 Alexandre has finally got copies of the Brazilian divorce and separation processes. A brief analysis shows evidence against Mara.

27 May 2009 Alexandre was in Itu. The judge recalculated my child support debt back to £180 per month and adjusted it for inflation – 230,000 reais from 1994 to 2006. The rest is cancelled. This is adjusted for inflation in Brazil and comes to double the amount that it would otherwise have been. Alexandre says there is no threat of imprisonment – just attachment to earnings or seizure of goods. So they can calculate in both sterling and reais depending on how it suits them. Says he’ll warn me if they try to seize money from my UK accounts.

28 May 2009 Alexandre lays out the options. Either I drop everything or try to have Rebeca’s adoption reversed. He says that the chances are 50:50 but I have nothing left to lose because I’ve already lost my daughter.

15 June 2009 Discussion and clarification of amounts, fees, chances etc etc. I tell Alexandre to proceed to litigation. This is it. It could take months or years.

30 June 2009 Alexandre sends me copies of documents related to government bodies in the UK that he wants the originals of sent to him by DHL.

1 July 2009 I start an online petition on the 10 Downing St website.

2 July 2009 50 documents have to be translated into Portuguese.

2 July 2009 Lalisa Froeder of SEDH responds to Alexandre’s email of 29 October 20008 saying that she had been on leave and that Patricia Lamego Soares thought it better that she wait for her return to provide Alexandre with a statement. She sends a statement saying that Mara had acted in bad faith.

20 July 2009 SEDH sends original documents to Alexandre.

30 July 2009 Alexandre receives original documents from me by DHL.

17 August 2009 I give right of attorney to Alexandre to act for me for the purposes of: AÇÃO DECLARATÓRIA DE NULIDADE DE SENTENÇA DE ADOÇÃO E PERDA DE PATRIO PODER E NULIDADE DE DECISÃO DE GUARDA PROVISÓRIA against JOSÉ AUGUSTO DOS SANTOS SÁ; MARA SILVIA OLIVEIRA REZENDE e REBECA REZENDE SÁ

17 August 2009 Alexandre reports my documents prove that Mara’s mother acted in bad faith because she was ordered to supply Mara’s address in the middle of the period in which she claimed that I had disappeared and was in an unknown place, having lied to the judge in SP that she had dropped the case when in fact she continued as Mara’s lawyer in the adoption case in SJC.

21 August 2009 Pablo Uchoa from BBC Brasil interviews me online and contacts Alexandre. Alexandre says I need witnesses who have witnessed and experienced my pain and suffering over the years and can testify to my attempts to locate Rebeca. I supply names and details.

9 September 2009 Alexandre sends me draft of writ to nullify Rebeca’s adoption: AÇÃO DECLARATÓRIA DE NULIDADE DA DECISÃO DA CONCESSÃO DA GUARDA PROVISÓRIA E NULIDADE DA SENTENÇA DE ADOÇÃO, NULIDADE DA ADOÇÃO E NULIDADE DA DESTITUIÇÃO DO PATRIO PODER POR VICIOS PELO RITO ORDINÁRIO against JOSÉ AUGUSTO DOS SANTOS SÁ; MARA SILVIA OLIVEIRA REZENDE e REBECA REZENDE SÁ

15 October 2009 Final draft of writ to nullify Rebeca’s adoption.

22 October 2009 Writ lodged in family court in Sao Jose dos Campos.

10 November 2009 Alexandre waiting to hear from court. No news from Itu on writ against me for ‘execucao de bens’. Seems that Mara is not following it up.

21 December 2009 Alexandre says there’s no news from the court. They’ll be on holiday until 6th January. Asks me to remove copy of writ from Bring Sean Home website.

12 January 2010 Alexandre reports that writ has been in judge’s hands since 7/1/10 and that we must wait. He will decide whether to take it forward or not.

15 January 2010 The court demands security of R$5,122.76 from me to be paid within 10 days before they will continue to examine the case because I am a foreigner. If I don’t pay, they’ll cancel the case.

16 January 

2010

I say to Alexandre that my ex-mother-in-law is meddling in the case and using her connections. He says she isn’t and that she doesn’t have the power to do so. I say he’s being naïve.

25 January 2010 Alexandre tells me not to trust in journalists so much. I should trust in the judicial process.

27 January 2010 Contacted by various Brazilian journalists. An article appears in a couple of Brazilian blogs.

12 February 2010 My father is diagnosed with cancer. I email ex-father-in-law, Milton Rezende, and copy in several of his friends and family, more in hope than in expectation that he might put some pressure on Mara. He fails to respond.

11 March 2010 Alexandre reports that the case is still held up in the court (with the judge) in São José dos Campos.

23 March 2010 The judge accepts the writ and orders that Mara, her husband and Rebeca be summonsed and made aware of the lawsuit so that they can mount a defence.

10 May 2010 The new Coalition government cancels all e-petitions on the 10 Downing St website. My petition is destroyed.

18 May 2010 Alexandre reports that Mara, her husband and Rebeca have not been summonsed yet because they have moved house. I ask why they cannot be located through a private detective or through tax records. I am told that I need to be patient, that he has the current address and that they are effectively ‘being sought.’

19 May 2010 Alexandre unearths their current address:

R José Augusto Dos Santos 86, Ap 1501
Floradas de São José
São José

Asks that they be summonsed at this address.


30 June 2010

I email Alexandre. He says he has been in SJDC and they have still not been summonsed. Says that some bureaucratic issues have held it up and that there’s a partial strike in the judicial system. The official guarantees that they are preparing the summons to be sent to the court official in July.

  • 31/05 Alexandre lodges the writ
  • 07/06 Alexandre goes to prosecutor and he agrees to the summons
  • 8/06 The judge authorises the summons
  • I say that I thought the writ had been issued in October 2009!!!

    I ask what has happened in the meantime and whether the summons will be served on 1st July or 31st July.


    2 July 2010 Alexandre insists that everything is going according to law and due process and that I need to be patient.

    15 July 2010 Alexandre reports that court in Itu has upheld claim against me for child support, despite the fact that I am not Rebeca’s father in Brazilian law.

    23 July 2010 REBECA’S 18th BIRTHDAY.

    1st August 2010 No news from Alexandre. I ask what is happening. He says he has been in SJDC and that the judge determined the summonsing on 18/6 (not 8/6), that the warrant for the summons was issued on 19/6 and that it went to the court official for serving on 22/6/1010. That they have 10 days to respond or be prosecuted for contempt. Says the case needs to be treated as a ‘slow case’. There are errors in the names of the people mentioned in the writ.

    25th August 2010 I email Milton and copy in his friends workmates and government departments in UK and Brazil. I accuse him of being complicit in Rebeca’s abduction and of deliberately hiding her whereabouts and conniving to lie to and stall official attempts to locate Rebeca.

    28 August 2010 I get a contact from a Juliana Tarfur from a film company in Brazil asking me to take part in a documentary about parental alienation. Despite repeated follow ups from me, they don’t get back to me though.

    1 September 2010 My 48th birthday. I haven’t seen Rebeca since I was 31 or spoken to her since I was 39. Milton emails me threatening court action against me for libel. Says he does not know where Mara and the rest are because they have ‘removed’ themselves from him because of me. I ask him to sue me and ask whether we are likely to meet in court before or after the Brazilian justice system has managed to locate Rebeca. Many emails from friends supporting me. I continue to email him, copying in his friends and workmates, asking where Rebeca is. I do this every day and get no response.

    Lalisa Froeder from SEDH emails to say she is leaving SEDH and to offer her sympathies for my trouble.


    2 September 2010 Alexandre tells me to be calm and to be patient.

    18 September 2010 I ask Alexandre whether the summons has been served. He says the following is the legal process: 

    1. Despatching of warrant for summons – the court official takes the warrant to the address indicated by the judge (this is happening) and there is a deadline of 60 days.
    2. The court official records on the back of the warrant what happens when it is enforced – whether they have been located or not, in other words whether the act has been carried out. They have a 15-day deadline to present a defence.
    3. On the basis of what has been confirmed by the court official, if they haven’t located the parties being sought they will either deliberate what to do next or seek information through the tax authorities to locate other addresses. We are obliged to wait for the court official’s report.

    The summons must be served at the address indicated on the warrant. The court official will go there. Other addresses, including workplaces, can only be used if they are not found in the original place indicated. There’s no point seeking José Augusto in Petrobras because Mara and Rebeca will not be there. The summons must be served on all three.

    He reaffirms that everything is continuing within the legal process and tells me that I must continue to wait.


    27 September 2010 Alexandre tells me that my ex-wife, Mara Silvia Oliveira Rezende and her husband, José Augusto Dos Santos Sá were summonsed at the end of August and that they have time to put forward a defence.

    5 October 2010 I receive a copy of Mara and her husband’s defence. It claims that I had disappeared without a trace, could not be located and took no interest in Rebeca.

    11 November 2010 I contact other European left-behind fathers, Kees, Mikael, Klaus and Alain and we discuss joint action through the European Parliament. We contact many MEPs. The two most positive are Ana Maria Gomes, who offers to write to the Brazilian Embassy in Brussels and Michéle Striffler, who asks for an official written parliamentary answer to the question of child abduction in Brazil.

    22 November 2010 I visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Michéle Striffler is proud and dismissive and waves me away, telling one of her underlings to deal with me. Keith Taylor is very sympathetic. Ana Maria Gome’s secretary is very helpful and arranges a meeting, but I have to get back to work in the UK.

    7 December 2010 Alexandre asks for Mara Silvia Oliveira Rezende, José Augusto Dos Santos Sá and Rebeca Rezende Boyle to be summonsed to appear in court under pain of being found against. They cannot be found because they are juggling addresses and telling the gate guard to inform visitors that they have moved.

    2 January 2011 Alexandre tells me that I have to travel to Brazil for the court hearing scheduled for 22nd February, otherwise I will be found against. I have to go with three witnesses to argue that I was actively trying to locate Rebeca while the adoption process was taking place. Alexandre tells me there will be no problems at the airport, even though I have my suspicions.

    15 February 2011 I fly to Brazil and am immediately detained at the airport and taken to the Federal Police station. My name is still on the national police computer, despite their having told me when I left in 2008 that it would be taken off. Alexandre arrives, explains the situation and I am released. I then have to pay another £1000 GBP for my name to be removed from the police computer and the continuing checking and responding to my ex’s ongoing renewal of child support claim. I am told that my name will be removed from police computer this time, but I now have to travel with a letter explaining the situation in case I am stopped and detained again. Alexandre tells me that Mara and José Augusto have not actually been officially summonsed, since they could not be located at the address and they didn’t sign the summons papers. However, he hopes that they will turn up.

    22 February 2011

    Mara Silvia Oliveira Rezende turns up in court with José Augusto Dos Santos Sá, Rebeca´s stepfather. This is the first time I have seen her in the flesh in 16 years and the first time I have ever seen José Augusto Dos Santos Sá. They do not bring Rebeca. The judge does not challenge this. In court, Mara plays the victim and cries while I give evidence and José Augusto Dos Santos Sá holds her hand and puts her arm round her. The judge tells her to leave the room.

    The judge, while sympathizing with my case, tells me that even if I win and we reverse the fraudulent adoption, Rebeca can simply change her name to whatever she wants by deed poll the following day since she is already an adult. It is clear that, since she is not here to hear my side of the story and has not been told that I am here, she will simply follow her mother’s orders. Mara is rude to the judge during questioning – curling her lip at him and saying ‘why don’t you ask my mother?’ in response to questions about how my imprisonment in 2008 had come about. The judge is extremely unimpressed.

    During a break in proceedings, Mara approaches me and offers to shake my hand. During a conversation, she says the following a) she and Rebeca’s stepfather had become evangelical Christians and that they had never said anything against me to Rebeca, b) that I should thank this guy, José Augusto, for having raised Rebeca (in secret, without asking, without my knowledge, and without ever having had the courage ever to identify himself to me), c) that Rebeca had been on the point of going to the UK to visit her cousins (despite the fact that Mara had always claimed in court documentation that she had no idea how to contact me or my family) and, confusingly, that d) Rebeca was scared to go out alone in case she was kidnapped and that she did not want to come to court because she was scared. I do not believe that she has ever been told that I am looking for her. Mara insists on speaking in English, even though I speak fluent Portuguese and José Augusto does not speak English. When I ask her why, she says gravely as if talking to a five year old child, “it’s to protect you, Martin. We are in a court here.”

    She does all the talking and her partner just nods his head. She leaves making threats that I will never see Rebeca ‘this way’. Lawyer and witnesses advise me not to get into discussion with her. I don’t see Rebeca, but this is what I expected.

    The judge asks when I have to leave Brazil and then says that his written judgement will be out in between 30 and 50 days.


    26 February 2011 Alexandre attempts mediation through Mara’s lawyer – a new one hired at the last minute. He says that Rebeca does not want to see me. Alexandre believes Mara would not let him speak to Rebeca.

    5 March 2011 I go to São José Dos Campos again and visit the two addresses that I have for Mara and her husband. The gate guard at the most recent address, Rua José Augusto Dos Santos (same as the stepfather’s name), 86, says that they left in 2009 and return very rarely to collect mail. I tell him who I am and he is sympathetic and tells me quite a lot about Rebeca and the ‘family’- that she was shy and withdrawn and had not had much schooling, that she looks very much like me, that the ‘family’ fought a lot with the neighbours and that they left her alone at home much of the time. He seemed to know them quite well. The people at the previous address, Rua Felicio Ciochi, 113, say they do not recognise anyone of that description.

    10 March 2011

    I visit a man who was a witness at my wedding in 1988. He used to be my father-in-law’s best friend, but says that they have not spoken for many years. He saw Rebeca when she was small and she seemed very bright and clever – he is shocked by what I tell him about the news I have received about her.

    I visit Mara’s former therapist. She tells me that Mara is clearly very sick – that she is psychotic and paranoid, that she hasn’t spoken to her since 2008, when she called her out of the blue to tell her that I had disappeared without a trace. I put her straight on the story and it seems she cannot believe that this kind of thing can happen in the Brazilian legal system – that I must have been badly counselled. I tell her that it would never have happened if I had been living in Brazil, had had a parent who was a lawyer and an endless supply of money with which to fund endless legal challenges and access requests. She looks blankly at me and tells me that the law is open to everyone. What is most galling, perhaps, is the way in which some of the people I try to explain this to are completely insensitive and impervious to the personal tragedy that has occurred here and start to interrogate, pick holes and offer advice on what I should have done as if I had never thought of these things.


    11 March 2011

    I speak to the priest who married us in 1988. He is also a psychologist and has known Mara since she was a child. He has not spoken to her for many years, but says that he will try to find a way to speak to Mara’s parents. We joke that, since Mara has now become a born-again Christian, it is unlikely that she will be happy about an intervention from a Catholic priest.

    I email Milton, Mara’s father, on the off chance.


    12 March 2011

    I speak on the phone to Mara’s 94 year-old grandmother. She says that Mara disappeared many years ago and that nobody in the family has seen her since – that she is ‘crazy’

    I get an email from Milton, asking me to call him. We talk for an hour. He says that Mara has not spoken to them for 5 years and that she has cut herself off from them completely, that his family life is in tatters and that he is distraught. He says he hasn’t seen Rebeca for 5 years. I feel sorry for him, but then remember everything that has happened, the imprisonment, the long years and all his emails rejecting my attempts at negotiation. I haven’t seen Rebeca for 16 years. I give him the priest’s number.

    I go to SJDC again and speak to the gate guard and to other neighbours who give me more interesting information about Rebeca. I tell them the full story, frankly and honestly, and they call other neighbours out to meet me. They are sympathetic. The talk is of a ‘weird’, ‘strange’ family, a desperately shy girl with no friends and that they always suspected that there was something wrong. I have to contain myself.


    13 March 2011 I go to the airport with Alexandre. He had assured me that everything would be OK as long as I had the documents with me, but I was not so sure, so I insisted. We go to the Federal Police station first and get a letter signed by the delegada to say that I can leave the country. My name is still on the police computer. They tell me to present the letter with my passport at passport control. I do this. The girl looks at it and immediately detains me. I have to spend a gut-churning half hour with two PFs at the desk between passport control and duty free while they discuss how to put the authorisation into the system and joke about the Brazilian system and vindictive Brazilian women. The cop’s parting words after he has stamped my passport are, “you’re just child support – it’s nothing. Have a good trip.” I say I wish they’d said that in 2008 and make my way to my flight.

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