A Singaporean booted out his Mongolian wife from their flat in London in the middle of a cold February night.
The police were called and when a cop arrived at their home, he settled the violent row by flipping a coin to decide who should stay and who should leave.
This episode last year did not sit well with a British Family Court judge hearing the wife's application for their 20-month-old son to be returned to London.
The boy has been living in Singapore since last July with his paternal grandparents.
Justice Alison Russell said the "curious approach to domestic abuse cases by the Metropolitan Police" prevents the court from following up on the incident.
Still, she took the word of the housewife.
She gave, among other things, a "graphic and convincing description of being assaulted and put out of the house into the cold", Justice Russell said in giving
the grounds for her judgment, which was made public last Thursday.
Finding her husband, a bank executive, to be "underhand, devious and cruel" and his evidence not credible, Justice Russell ordered him to return the boy to his "habitual residence", London.
The couple, who cannot be named under the law as there is a child involved, met and married in Singapore in June 2011 and their son was born in July 2012.
But their marriage fell apart early last year and they are in the midst of finalising their divorce.
Both, however, chose to remain in England; she to study and he to work.
Last year, they agreed to take the baby to Singapore to be cared for by the man's parents for a limited period. But when they arrived in Singapore, he filed for divorce and child custody.
He also applied for a court order to stop her from taking the child out of Singapore but he failed in his bid to serve it on her at Changi Airport in late January when she was about to fly home to London.
Further, he did not tell her he had quit his job in London and before they flew to Singapore, and took out a "substantial sum" from their joint bank account without her knowledge.
He also admitted in court that he had returned to Singapore with an empty suitcase to hide his intentions from his wife.
His claim that he and his wife had both agreed that their son remain in Singapore was rejected by Justice Russell, who found that he had deliberately sought to remove the mother from the child and intended to do it permanently.
Pointing to the evidence of a social worker, the judge also rejected his claims that his wife was a "neglectful mother and poor parent".
His wife, in her application to the court, had argued that the child was "habitually resident" in London and had been "unlawfully retained" in Singapore.
To counter it, he said he was "bullied and coerced into doing things against his will", like when she made him prepare documents for her and and buy return plane tickets against his will.
But Justice Russell found that independent evidence showed "it was he who was believed to be the bully and the manipulator".
Meanwhile, London police are investigating the husband for alleged sexual assault of his wife.
He was arrested in February and taken for questioning.
This article was published on April 7 in The Straits Times.
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