Page last updated at 21:28 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 22:28 UK

Girl's 'message' prompted kidnap

Christian Gerhartsreiter in court
Christian Gerhartsreiter's defence says he suffers from mental illness

A man accused of abducting his seven-year-old daughter last year believed she had told him via telepathy to rescue her, a Boston court has heard.

The accused, who calls himself Clark Rockefeller and claimed to be a member of the famous oil dynasty, lived in an "insane world", his lawyer said.

Christian Gerhartsreiter is accused of snatching the girl when she visited him in the US after his marriage broke up.

The pair were found in Baltimore a week later after a police manhunt.

Federal investigators say Mr Gerhartsreiter, 48, mixed for years in American high society and claimed to be a member of New York's Rockefeller oil dynasty.

Prosecutors said Mr Gerhartsreiter had made up stories about his background that even fooled his ex-wife.

'Personality disorder'

The BBC's Adam Brookes says Mr Gerhartsreiter used the Rockefeller alias to secure jobs at prominent firms and that even his ex-wife had been unaware that he was a German immigrant.

After their marriage broke up, Mr Gerhartsreiter is alleged to have snatched his daughter, Reigh Boss, during a supervised visit to Boston last year.

For a week, the two were hunted by police all over the country. They were found in Baltimore and the child - known to the family as Snooks - was unharmed.

He believed he was telepathically communicating with his child
Defence Lawyer Jeffrey Denner

Reigh, who lives in London, was later reunited with her mother Sandra Boss, a senior partner in the London office of the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

On the opening day of the trial, defence Lawyer Jeffrey Denner, setting up a defence of insanity, said Mr Gerhartsreiter suffered from a narcissistic personality disorder which distorts his judgement.

He said his client lived in a "magical, insane world" and believed he had to rescue his daughter.

"He believed he was telepathically communicating with his child. He believed that she was secretly signalling him... that she needed to be saved, that she wasn't being cared for," Mr Denner said.

Assistant District Attorney David Deakin, prosecuting, said Mr Gerhartsreiter charmed Sandra Boss by creating elaborate fabrications from the moment they met in 1993.

She believed she was marrying an eccentric Rockefeller when the two wed on a beach in wealthy Nantucket island off Massachusetts in 1995, Mr Deakin said.

"She continued to be dazzled by his personality, by his extraordinary intelligence," he added.

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