TORONTO – A man accused of kidnapping his toddler son in Canada and hiding him in the United states for three decades made a brief appearance in a Canadian courtroom for the first time on Thursday, well over a year after he was arrested in the case.
Allan Mann Jr. has been charged with abduction for allegedly kidnapping his son Jermaine in 1987, Toronto police said.
He was extradited to Canada after finishing an 18-month stint in a U.S. prison for illegally obtaining government benefits while eluding authorities.
“They lived, basically, a life of lies as to who they were and what they did, unbeknownst to Jermaine,” Toronto police Det. Sgt.
Wayne Banks said upon Mann’s October 2018 arrest. “He was under the impression that his mother had died shortly after birth.”
Mann was in court Thursday for a bail hearing, but a court official said it was postponed until Monday.
Toronto police allege Mann kidnapped his son during a court-ordered visitation in 1987 before fleeing to the U.S. and obtaining fake identities for them both.
Mann’s American lawyer, David Ring, said his client fled Canada with his son because he worried about the boy’s safety during a bitter custody dispute with his wife, who planned to take the child to Jamaica.
U.S. authorities said Mann acquired counterfeit birth certificates for him and his son, which were later used to obtain a Social Security number.
American prosecutors said Mann used the alias Hailee DeSouza to collect more than US$125,000 in housing benefits and more than US$55,000 in Medicaid assistance. He pleaded guilty last year to one count of making a false statement.
U.S. marshals and Toronto police launched a new effort to find Mann in 2016 while meeting at a law enforcement conference on capturing fugitives.
The marshals interviewed several of Mann’s friends and family members, including a relative who pointed authorities to Connecticut and Mann’s alleged alias. He was ultimately arrested in Vernon, Conn.
Mann’s son is now in his 30s and reunited with his mother after years of believing she had died shortly after his birth.
Lyneth Mann-Lewis of Brampton, Ont., spoke publicly upon their reunion, saying she hoped her story-book ending offered hope to others whose children were taken from them.
“I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering, one should never give up,” she said at the time. “Be patient, be strong, and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2020.
– with files from The Associated Press.