By JOHN HENZELL - The Press | Friday, 27 July 2007
Two "screaming and hysterical" Christchurch children have been escorted by police to Australia and without their mother after she lost her last-ditch legal battle to keep them in New Zealand.
The woman, who cannot be named, obtained domestic protection orders on both sides of the Tasman against her allegedly violent former husband and claimed their children, aged four and two, would placed at "grave risk" if they had to return to Australia.
A family friend said the children were escorted on the flight yesterday by their father's mother but the airline refused to allow the mother to travel on the same flight because of the risk posed by the mother. She travelled to Australia on a separate flight today.
"The children were hysterical. They were crying and screaming and grabbing their mother," she said.
"We were of the understanding that they were to be picked up by child safety in Australia but we're of the notion now that the children have been returned to his care.
"We have grave concerns about these children being placed anywhere near (the father). We believe these children are at risk.
"The mother has no accommodation and no money and she doesn't qualify for anything in the way of financial assistance while she's in Australia."
The mother's court battled ended on Friday when the Supreme Court rejected her final bid to overturn the order for the custody battle to be decided in Australia.
Both parents are New Zealand citizens but were living in Australia when they split.
A Christchurch Family Court judge said the Hague Convention was clear that international agreements on custody battles had to be heard in the country where the dispute originated.
The decision to return the children to Australia was upheld at the High Court in Christchurch and then the Court of Appeal.
Chief Justice Sian Elias, sitting with Justices McGrath and Anderson in the Supreme Court, withdrew the court order preventing the children being taken to Australia and they boarded a flight yesterday.