The child, a boy, was 4 years old at the time of his alleged wrongful removal from California to Ontario by the mother. On 10 November 2008, the mother was allegedly assaulted by the father. On 15 November 2008 she left the United States and brought the child to Canada. Criminal charges were laid against the father regarding the assault, but no verdict had been delivered by the date of this decision.
On 8 January 2009 the mother sent a letter to the father informing him that neither she nor the child would return. The father then initiated proceedings in California for custody. On 27 January 2009 the mother obtained in Ontario an interim order of custody with no access to the father, who was restrained from having any contact with the mother or child.
On 29 January 2009, the father applied for the return of the child under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. On 17 March 2009 the Court dismissed that father’s return application on the grounds that return would create a grave risk of harm. The father appealed.