The child, a boy, was 1 at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. The infant had lived in both England and Ireland. The parents were not married and the father had no custody rights in respect of the boy. On 11 March 1996, the day after the death of the mother, the maternal grandmother and aunt took the child to Ireland.
On 13 March 1996 the Dublin Circuit Court granted guardianship and care and control of the child to the maternal aunt. Later that same day the English High Court granted interim care and control of the child to the father and ordered the maternal grandmother to return the child to the jurisdiction.
On 14 March 1996 the child was made a ward of the English High Court. On 26 March the Irish custody proceedings were stayed pending a return application.
On 4 October the English High Court ruled that the child was still habitually resident in England on 13 March. Consequently there had been jurisdiction to grant the father interim care and control. This finding was upheld by the Court of Appeal on 18 December and by the House of Lords on 24 July 1997.
Following the English proceedings the Irish High Court dealt with the father’s return application.