A mother who planned to kill the father of her 13 year-old son has failed in a legal bid to see him.
In X v Y and Another, the boy, referred to as ‘Z’, was born in 2000, two months before his parents married. They had been involved in a relationship for four years at that point. The mother is from Grenada in the Caribbean while his father is European.
The marriage lasted less than two years.
At the High Court in London, Mr Justice Baker explained:
“Their relationship broke down in 2002 and there has been litigation between the parties for most of the subsequent twelve years.”
Initially the parents reached a shared care arrangement, which saw Z spending time with both parents, but there were “prolonged difficulties” and the case returned to court several times.
However, in June 2009,the mother took a knife to her son’s school because she expected the father to be there. She was angry with him about certain property issues and later admitted that she intended to kill him. But she didn’t go through with her plan, breaking down at the school and giving the knife to the headmistress.
As a result the mother was arrested and kept in custody for several weeks. Z, meanwhile, was transferred into the sole custody of his father. The mother was not charged, but was made subject to an order the she not go within one mile of the father’s house or have any contact with her son. She was later allowed indirect contact but he said he not wish to see his mother.
Later, after a psychiatrist told the father that his son was highly anxious about his seeing his mother, he applied for permission to relocate to a secret location, to give his son a greater feeling of security. The mother meanwhile applied for a restoration of contact.
The father was granted permission to move to Switzerland but was required to apply for ‘mirror orders’ from the Swiss courts, echoing the English order. However, he then discovered that doing so would mean revealing his new address when the order was served on the mother. The man therefore returned to court, asking to be released from the requirement.
Z’s legal guardian reported that he had settled well in Switzerland but remained frightened of his mother. The guardian also visited the mother in England but she was abusive.
The father’s application was granted. Z was now habitually resident (resident for legal purposes) in Switzerland but he still had significant ties to England sowas therefore appropriate that the dispute be heard in the English courts.
On the issue of contact, Mr Justice Baker referred to an earlier hope that the mother would undertake therapy to address her behaviour and that this would allow her to have direct contact with Z once more. However, this had not taken place. The mother had no :
“…appreciation of Z’s needs or insight into his anxieties.”
The judge therefore concluded that contact should therefore be limited to four letters a year. This would be in Z’s best interests.
Mr Justice Baker noted:
“At this point I should record that, when the court reassembled for judgment, Mr. Bishop informed me that the mother had reflected on her position, and the evidence, and had concluded that she did not wish to pursue the question of contact and would propose to write only one further letter. He added that she intended to return to Grenada and would seek a readjustment of the financial settlement between the parties.”
The legal order would therefore state that the mother was free to write four times a year and that “upon receipt of a letter from the mother, the father shall encourage and facilitate Z to reply.”
Read the full judgement here.
Photo of Grenada by Atiemann via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence