Belfast Telegraph

Canadian addict loses court battle for custody of Northern Ireland son

By Alan Erwin

A Canadian father with drink and drug addictions has lost a High Court battle to have his son returned from Northern Ireland.

The man was seeking an order that the three-year-old child's mother unlawfully removed him in breach of custody rights.

But a judge in Belfast dismissed the case after ruling that sending the boy back to Canada would put him at grave risk of physical or psychological harm.

With the father suspected of having cocaine and alcohol dependencies, Mr Justice O'Hara said he behaved "outrageously and in the most damaging way".

In one incident it was claimed that police in Canada investigating reports he had stolen his wife's wedding and engagement rings to pay a drug debt found him at a strip club.

On another occasion he was seriously injured after crashing his car while drink-driving.

Neither the man nor his estranged wife, who is from Northern Ireland, can be named to protect heir child's identity.

It was agreed in the case that the boy, referred to as Q, was wrongfully removed and retained under the terms of the Hague Convention dealing with international child abduction because his father's custody rights were breached.

That meant the child's mother had to prove exceptional circumstances in order to stop the court ordering his return.

The couple married in Northern Ireland in 2007 and then moved to live in Canada.

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