A custody battle in London between the father and the mother of a two-year old child has resulted in the mother being arrested in Singapore.
It all started when the couple filed for divorce and a British court ordered that the child be placed under the mother’s care.
The father is Singaporean, and the 30-year old mother, whose name cannot be disclosed because of a gag order, is a foreigner.
When the grandparents in Singapore refused to release the child to the mother, their son was arrested and spent some time in jail in the United Kingdom for being in contempt of court. However, he was freed from jail by a judge in July.
Desperate to get her son back, the mother apparently engaged the services of Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI) through its managing director, Adam Christopher Whittington.
CARI describes itself as “the world’s leading Child Recovery Specialists”. It was established in 2000 and says that its “operatives have recovered children in Indonesia, Libya, Lebanon, Phillipines, Japan, Russia, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Syria, including European, UAE, South American and African countries.” (See here.)
It also says it has “recovered over 660 missing children and over 1500 adults.”
The mother of the child told Whittington that because her former husband had filed police reports against her, she could not enter Singapore through the proper channels, else she would be arrested.
A catamaran was then hired from Langkawi in Malaysia, to sneak her into Singapore.
It is understood that the boat set off from Malaysia last month, and was skippered by Australian Todd Allan Wilson, and Whittington, who has both Australian and British passports.
The boat reached the Raffles Marina at Tuas Drive on 19 August at about 6am.
Eluding the immigration authorities, the mother and Whittington then went to the condominium where the child was living with his grandparents.
There, they had some skirmishes with the grandparents, whereupon Whittington arm-locked the grandfather in order for the child’s mother to prise the child away from the grandfather’s grasp.
The court heard that Whittington has, in the incident, also hurt the child’s grandmother in the neck, who was trying to stop him from manhandling the grandfather.
The next day, the mother and Whittington were arrested at separate locations in Singapore.
In court on Thursday, Whittington admitted to using force on the boy’s grandfather and hurting his grandmother and, along with Wilson, pleaded guilty to entering Singapore illegally.
The child’s mother pleaded guilty to one charge of committing an immigration offence.
The mother pleaded in mitigation that she missed her son whom she had not seen for a year, and that she had been having sleepless nights and feeling depressed over it.
She expressed contrition and remorse, saying that she had made a “big mistake” in committing the offence.
“I believe my son needs me more than anything,” she told the court.
She said she hopes to proceed with the custody matter in Singapore, and with the help of an English lawyer.
The judge has reserved judgment until Monday, 8 September.
The trio face a maximum penalty of a year's jail and a S$4,000 fine for immigration offences.
Whittington also faces up to two years' jail and a S$5,000 fine for hurting the boy's grandmother, and three months' jail and a S$1,500 fine for "arm-locking" the boy's grandfather.