December 10, 2015
Source: The Sydney morning herald
Former Neighbours actress Eliza Szonert has snatched her child back from her estranged musician partner in dramatic scenes in a restaurant in Malaysia during an ongoing custody row.
Szonert and her former partner musician businessman Ashley Crick had been embroiled in a row over care of her son while they were staying in Kuala Lumpur – in an incident which had embroiled Australian consular officials..
Szonert had originally travelled to Malaysia with the child to stay with Mr Crick but then she alleged a disagreement occurred resulting in her being ordered out of their accommodation without the child or her passport.
She sought assistance from the High Commission and also separately from an organisation that helps return children to their parents in custody disputes.
Assisted by the agency on Thursday morning Szonert took the boy from Crick at a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur’s Mid Valley Mega Mall.
Video of the incident supplied to Fairfax shows Ms Szonert walking in accompanied by two large men. While the men engage Crick, she then walks around and picks up the child and walks away. The child appears to be distressed and Crick appears unable to act while engaged by the one of the accompanying men.
The video was supplied to Fairfax by the child recovery agency, which asked not to be identified for fear of jeopardising employees’ safety.
Szonert issued a statement after the incident saying she had “safely recovered my child”.
But she said she still did not have any passports for herself or her son, leaving them stranded in Malaysia.
“I am calling on the Australian government to provide all necessary assistance to help my son and I return to Australia,” she said.
Crick, a former international skydiving champion, has previously declined to comment on the situation.
Australia’s Foreign Affairs Department on Wednesday night confirmed it was providing consular assistance to a woman in Kuala Lumpur but declined to provide further details due to privacy obligations. It had not responded to further questions at the time of publishing.
On Thursday, Mr Crick declined to make any comment other than to say he was “very focused on his son’s wellbeing”.
On Wednesday Szonert’s Melbourne-based mother Kay had alleged that Crick had her daughter’s passport.
“I’m worried for her well-being,” she said. “I’m amazed that she has been coping as well as she has. I don’t know for how long, but she doesn’t want to go home without her son.”
Fairfax understands the embassy has made representations over the passport but is unable to become involved in the custody issue because of legal issues with Malaysia.
Malaysia is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Crick, who is an accomplished musician and has played with guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel on tour, has been reported to have been working in Malaysia as the chief technology officer at iflix, a subscription video online platform being rolled out throughout Asia.
In an interview for a trade publication recently, Mr Crick was quoted as saying he was an Aussie “learning the south-east Asian cultural quirks in a town none of us have lived in before, and enjoying it immensely working on a successful little project”.
“I’m loving it in Kuala Lumpur – it’s a beautiful city and great hub in the middle of everywhere we are aiming to be.”
Szonert, 41, played Danni Stark in Neighbours from 1993 to 1996 and appeared in the show’s 20th anniversary episode. She has appeared in the movie The Dish, and had a role in Underbelly, in which she played Trish Moran.
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