S'porean stuck in London over bitter divorce

S'porean stuck in London over bitter divorce

A Singaporean man undergoing a bitter divorce in London has found himself stuck in the British capital, unable to return home, even as his son was forcibly taken from his parents' home in Singapore two months ago.

His Mongolian wife had entered Singapore illegally, defied a Singapore Family Court order and tried to smuggle their two-year-old son overseas, which saw her jailed for 10 weeks last month. Both parents cannot be named under the law, to protect their son's identity.

The ongoing divorce proceedings and furious custody battle caused Ben (not his real name) to lose his bank executive job. It also led to him being jailed and ordered by a British court to stay out of his own apartment in London.

Ben, 36, is unable to return home to Singapore as his passport was impounded after his wife alleged that he had raped her during their marriage.

Speaking to The Straits Times from London, he said he fears for his son's safety, as he believes his wife and her accomplices would "keep trying to take his son away until they succeed".

On Tuesday, his wife, who was living in London on a spouse dependent pass, was released on remission and deported to her home country, Mongolia.

The 30-year-old had admitted to entering Singapore illegally on Aug 19, and hiring a catamaran in Malaysia to try and get the boy out of the Republic.

Her accomplices - Adam Christopher Whittington, 38, British managing director of Child Abduction Recovery International, and Australian Todd Allan Wilson, 39, who owns the vessel - were jailed 16 weeks and 10 weeks respectively. The court had heard how Ben's wife and Whittington went to his parents' apartment and took their child by force, leaving the elderly parents hurt after they put up a struggle. Ben's wife eventually took the boy away.

Giving his side of the story for the first time, Ben said: "It was past 1am when I received a phone call from my mother, who was hysterical. She told me that she and my father were assaulted by an unknown Caucasian man at the lift landing just outside their apartment... I was very distressed as I was stuck in London, unable to come home to my family's aid in their hour of need."

Following his wife's arrest, Ben applied to the British High Court to release his passport so he could return to care for his family, but was told there was a shortage of judges, so his application could not be heard. When he returned last month, a judge told him he had not read the documents, and that the court also wanted to wait until his wife was released from prison.

Ben said his son, who is still in his parents' care, had recurring nightmares for weeks after the incident, but is generally doing well. He said: "She (his wife) had wanted to subject him to a long boat trip from Singapore to Langkawi, without any proper clothing or food. What kind of mother would do such a thing?"

Ben said he met his wife in a bar at Singapore's Hyatt Hotel in December 2010 and they married here in June 2011. They moved to London in October 2011, and their son was born in July the next year. According to Ben, their marriage fell apart early last year because his wife was frequently violent towards him.

In July last year, the couple took their son back to Singapore, to Ben's parents. They returned to London by themselves a month later. In January this year, Ben filed for divorce in Singapore. His wife then started her divorce proceedings in London. Ben has since taken out an order from a Singapore court to restrain her from taking their child out of the country.

Meanwhile, she has obtained an order from the British court for the return of their son. However, Ben said that he is unable to travel to effect the return of the child, as a result of the passport order.

His parents have refused to return the child to Britain and have also taken out court proceedings to have custody of their grandson.

This article was first published on Oct 9, 2014.
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