A pharmacist has lost a transatlantic tug-of-love with her estranged husband after a High Court judge concluded that she had flown their three children from the US to England in a “planned, surreptitious, deceptive” fashion.
Mrs Justice Parker ruled that the children – aged between two and 12 – should be returned to their father, who ran a shoe shop in California.
She said the woman, whose family live in Leicester, had told “frank untruths” and given an account of events which was “self-serving and at times frankly incredible”.
The High Court Family Division judge ruled that no-one involved in the case could be identified.
She said the family had been living in California and the woman had taken the children to England about eight months ago.
Mrs Justice Parker said the man had left for work at about 6am one day in August. Later that morning, the woman’s father had taken her and the children to Las Vegas to catch a flight.
The man had returned in the evening to find toys and clothes “strewn on the floor” and a number of small suitcases gone from the garage, said the judge.
Days later, the woman’s parents had returned to the house in California, said the judge. There had been a “stand-off on the drive” and the man told how his mother-in-law said “bye-bye, we’ve won, we’ve got your kids ... you won’t see them again”.
The judge said the man felt the children had been “kidnapped”.
Mrs Justice Parker ruled that the children should return to their father in the US under the terms of international law.
The judge said: “The father was thoughtful, moderate and controlled, even when obviously distressed about the absence of his children.”
She said she had heard evidence “consistent with a planned abduction” and added: “This was a planned, surreptitious, deceptive removal, in which the grandparents assisted.”