The child was 3 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. The parents were not married but both had rights of custody. The child had initially lived in Dublin but in April 1997 the mother unilaterally took the child to Belfast in Northern Ireland.
The father did not petition for the child’s return under the Hague Convention. The parents reached an agreement on access. At first this involved the child spending long weekends with the father but from November 1997 the child spent alternate weeks with the father in Dublin.
In early 1998 social services in Northern Ireland raised concerns about the mother’s treatment of the child. On 13 January the child arrived for its weekly visit with the father with noticeable bodily bruising. On 14 January the father took the child to a doctor in Dublin.
On 15 January the father informed the Northern Ireland social services that he did not intend to return the child to the mother. He then issued proceedings in the Dublin Circuit Family Court. The mother did not petition for the return of the child.
The father subsequently agreed to allowing the mother overnight access with the child in Dublin. On 20 February 1998, during such an arranged visit, the mother took the child to Northern Ireland. On 28 April the father commenced proceedings for the return of the child.