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British mother returns missing daughter to dad

Alexandra Gould, a British citizen who snatched her daughter from a day care center last week, turned herself in to authorities Monday and returned 4-year-old Jasmine Delgaty to her father.

Gould, 34, was charged with interference with child custody, booked into the Pinellas County Jail and released on her own recognizance.

Gould could not be reached. But her criminal lawyer, Jack Helinger, said she has equal custody rights to the child and had no intention of fleeing the country, as Jasmine's father had contended.

Gould, whose visa problems in 1997 had made it difficult for her to stay in the United States, disappeared in 1998 with Jasmine and another daughter, Kaili Gould, during a custody dispute with Kaili's father. A private investigator finally tracked her to an island off Spain.

Kaili's father, Fred Gould, and Jasmine's father, Michael Delgaty, secured temporary custody orders from Pinellas judges, flew to Spain and recovered the girls in December.

Alexandra Gould returned to Pinellas a few months ago and asked to see the girls. Both fathers denied that request until domestic courts resolve permanent custody. But she talked to the girls by telephone daily, the fathers said.

On Aug. 2, Delgaty enrolled Jasmine in A Child's Place day care center on 49th Street N. About noon, Gould showed up, asked to visit with her daughter and claimed she had custody. When the director turned his back to answer the telephone, he said, Gould took off with the girl.

Gould already faced a 1998 charge of custody interference related to her disappearance to Spain.

After she took Jasmine from the day care center, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's office issued a new arrest warrant. Helinger, who already represented Gould on the prior custody charge, was on vacation at the time. When he returned, he arranged for her to surrender and give Jasmine back.

Helinger noted that the temporary custody order that allowed Delgaty to bring Jasmine back from Spain expired in May. Since then, Delgaty has done nothing in court to reaffirm his rights to the child.

Delgaty and Gould never married. Florida law presumes that unmarried mothers will have custody unless a court rules otherwise.

Jasmine was crying when Gould brought her to the courthouse Monday to hand her back over, Delgaty said.

"Once she saw Kaili, me, Fred and everybody, she stopped crying. The thing was, she was scared. Soon she was walking down the hallway, and she was fine, talking away with Kaili."

Gould's current visa has little time left on it, Helinger said, which could complicate her ability to defend herself on the pending custody charges.

"We are doing everything we can to have her comply with conflicting laws between the state and federal government," he said, "and allow these kids to have a mother and a father."