September 15 , 2014
The boy’s London-based mother was also sent to prison for her part in the daring plan to snatch the child from his Singaporean father and bring him home to the UK.
A former Scotland Yard detective has been jailed in Singapore after a foiled attempt to snatch a two-year-old boy back on behalf of his mother at the centre of an international custody battle.
The boy’s London-based mother was also sent to prison for her part in the daring plan to bring the child to the capital.
The 30-year-old woman is in the process of divorcing her Singaporean husband and had been granted custody of their son in January by UK courts.
In response, her ex-partner obtained an interim restraining order from a Singapore family court preventing the child from being taken out of the country.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, called in ex-Met police officer Adam Whittington as part of a plan to enter the city by boat under cover of darkness and take the child from his paternal grandparents.
Whittington runs an agency called Child Abduction Recovery International and, according to his LinkedIn profile, has worked on a number of high-profile disappearances including being hired by the family of murdered British woman Lucie Blackman when she disappeared in Japan in 2000.
According to court documents, seen by local media, the ex-officer flew out on a reconnaissance trip to study the layout of the grandparents’ property and study their daily routine.
He chartered a catamaran, captained by Australian national Todd Wilson, and devised a 440-mile sea route from Langkawi in Malaysia to Singapore’s exclusive Raffles Marina Club.
Whittington discovered the club was not patrolled by guards during the day and landed without authorisation or immigration clearance.
Once ashore, Whittington and the child’s mother took a taxi to the grandparents’ house where they scuffled with the grandparents as they tried to lead the child away.
The papers state Whittington placed his left arm around the 66-year-old grandfather’s neck and then pressed the neck of the grandmother, 68, when she tried to prevent him leaving.
Whittington, Wilson and the mother were arrested the following day and pleaded guilty to entering Singapore illegally. Prosecutors said the plan to take the child showed “complete disregard for Singapore’s laws” and a “vigilante’s attempt to subvert due process of a matter which is still before the Singapore family court”.
After being sentenced to 10 weeks in jail for illegal entry, the child’s mother told the judge: “I want to see my son. I am exhausted. Every night, I can’t sleep as I keep thinking of my son. If my son can speak, I’m sure he will say, ‘Mummy, come pick me up’. ”
Wilson, 39, was also jailed for 10 weeks for illegal entry.
Whittington was jailed for 16 weeks for entering the country illegally and for two charges of criminal assault and voluntarily causing hurt.
The court said it gave the former a higher jail sentence for his active role in hatching the plan to recover the child, and for hurting the boy’s grandparents.
Whittington had admitted earlier to “arm-locking” the boy’s grandfather and hurting the neck of the boy’s grandmother in a scuffle at their home.
The website of Child Abduction Recovery International, which is based in Sweden, says it works “under the radar” to track down abducted children.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ailene Chou said Whittington had entered Singapore to conduct reconnaissance, such as the layout of the grandparents’ residence and their daily routine.
He also researched the vessel route from Langkawi to Singapore, and found out that Raffles Marina Club had an armed guard only during the club’s operating hours between 9am and 5pm.
He also prepared supplies for the vessel, including a passport and diapers for the boy.
Whittington pleaded for a lighter sentence, saying his grandmother who brought him up passed away last Wednesday and he hoped to return home to pay his last respects.
Wilson also apologised, and wanted to be home to take care of his two children.
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The woman, too, apologised in court, saying she felt guilty for her actions.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said they were monitoring the situation adding: “We advise British nationals who are involved in international parental child abductions or custody disputes to contact the FCO for consular assistance. The FCO strongly advises against re-abducting children. This may be illegal and can put your child at risk.”