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Crime

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Crime

British court jails Singaporean banker for failing to return son to mother

The Straits Times | K.C. Vijayan | Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

A Singapore bank executive has been jailed for 18 months by a London court for failing to return his 21-month-old son to his estranged wife.

The man, who cannot be named, ignored three court orders to return "M" and was found guilty of contempt.

Justice Alison Russell found the banker "deliberately planned and contrived to keep M in Singapore with his parents and away from his (the boy's) mother".

M lives here with his paternal grandparents but his Mongolian mother obtained a British court order last month which held that the child's habitual home is in London. It instructed the father to return the child to her care.

After the first order for him to return the boy, issued on March 14, was breached, he was given a second chance. However, he failed to have his son flown back in time for a March 21 deadline.

The man claimed his parents in Singapore would not return M and produced E-tickets for flights that were not used. To meet the concerns of the grandparents, the court ruled the child be returned to London in his care, at the suggestion of the mother's lawyers.

A day before a third deadline on March 28, he hired a lawyer to apply to another judge to discharge the order to return M and adjourn to a further hearing date, all without notifying his wife's lawyers.

This also came after he claimed he could not afford a lawyer to defend himself in the contempt hearings.

A judge refused the application and told him to apply to Justice Russell.

"It was a deliberate attempt to undermine and subvert due process," said Justice Russell. "Moreover, the fact that he paid lawyers to make this wholly misconceived application gives lie to his claim he is without funds."

She found him guilty of breaching the three court orders and jailed him for six months on the first breach and 12 months each, to run concurrently, on the others.

Justice Russell ordered the judgment papers be forwarded to Singapore ahead of an application by the grandparents for temporary custody of M due this week.

vijayan@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 13 in The Straits Times.

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