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High Court refuses to surrender mother to French authorities on charge of child abduction

High Court refuses to surrender mother to French authorities on charge of child abduction

The High Court has rejected a request to extradite a mother to France to face an allegation that she abducted her own son.

The French woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had claimed that she came to Ireland to protect her son.

But French authorities said she is wanted for child abduction and for failing to deliver the boy to his father, who is entitled to joint custody.

The boy is now 17 years old.

The court previously heard that the mother flew to Ireland with her son one day after she was due to hand him over to her ex-husband.

She said that she feared that if she returned her son to his father, the boy could end up in a psychiatric institution and become institutionalised for life.

The boy was aged 16 at the time.

Today, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly rejected the French authorities' request to surrender the woman for extradition. 

The issue in the case, the judge said, was if the child lacked the capacity to consent to being taken to Ireland. 

During earlier hearings, counsel for the Minister for Justice Vincent Heneghan BL made the argument that the charge of child abduction in France was equivalent to a charge of false imprisonment in Ireland.

Michael Lynn SC, representing the French woman, argued that the boy came to Ireland willingly.

The boy's autistic condition did not mean that he was incapable of making a decision for himself and no evidence had been heard to contradict that, he said.

Mr Lynn further stated that the boy was not forced in any way and that as a 17-year-old he was considered capable of making his own decisions under Irish law.

In her judgement, Ms Justice Donnelly said she was satisfied that the facts set out in the European Arrest Warrant and the case did not demonstrate a lack of consent on the boy's part.

Therefore, she said, there was no correspondence between the offence of child abduction and that of false imprisonment.

The woman was discharged from the court and her case was listed for mention again on Thursday morning.