Woman afraid of returning to Ireland loses London High Court fight over son
An Irish woman who said she would live in fear of “extreme violence” if she returned with her 12-month-old son to his father in Ireland has lost a High Court fight in England.
The woman had left Ireland and travelled to England with the little boy about 18 months after marrying without telling her husband, a judge based in London heard.
Her husband had asked Mr Justice MacDonald to order his son’s return to Ireland under the terms of an international legal convention.
The woman told Mr Justice MacDonald that she had been intimidated and assaulted by her husband, and, if she returned to Ireland, she would live in fear of “extreme violence”.
She said her son would be in an “intolerable” situation if he returned to his father without her.
The woman said her husband’s family was “notorious” and had “enemies”.
But Mr Justice MacDonald has ruled against her and ordered the boy’s return to Ireland.
The judge has outlined detail of case in a written ruling, published online, after considering evidence at a recent hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.
He said the boy could not be identified in media reports of the case, and he identified the youngster by the letter “G” in his ruling.
Mr Justice MacDonald was told that the couple, who both came from the Irish Traveller community, had married in the summer of 2019.
The woman had travelled to England with their son in late 2020.
She made a series of allegations about the way she had been treated by her husband and his family.
The woman said her husband had intimidated and controlled her, had been abusive and had once head-butted her.
She said her father-in-law had threatened to beat her, cut her throat and “throw her at the back of a field”.
Her husband denied her allegations.
Mr Justice MacDonald said judges in Ireland could make decisions about the boy’s welfare.
He said the man had offered to travel to England to collect the boy.
The man had also promised to “promote contact” between the boy and his mother and to engage in any welfare proceedings in a court in the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Justice MacDonald said the boy was habitually resident in the Republic of Ireland.
He said the boy’s father had custody rights.
Mr Justice MacDonald said: “I am not satisfied that the separation of G from the care of the mother and his placement in his father’s care consequent upon an order returning him to the Republic of Ireland in order that the Irish court can determine the long term welfare of G, due to the mother refusing to return to Ireland with G, will expose him to a grave risk of physical or psychological harm or otherwise place him in an intolerable situation.
“In those circumstances, the court has no option but to make a return order.”
The judge said he hoped that the woman would reconsider her decision not to travel with boy when he returned to the Republic of Ireland.