The child, a girl, was 6 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. She had until then lived all of her life in the Republic of Ireland. The parents, who had never married, separated in 1995.
On 11 April 1996 the District Court of Carrigaline, by consent, made a custody order in favour of the mother and granted the father interim access. On 30 March 1998 the father filed a further application in the District Court of Carrigaline seeking defined access and to be appointed a guardian of the child.
The application was adjourned by consent until 23 July. On 20 June the father informed the Irish police and his lawyers that he feared that the mother would take the child out of the jurisdiction. On 23 June the mother took the girl to England.
On 23 July the District Court of Carrigaline appointed the father a guardian of his daughter. There was no direct communication between the father and mother until May 1999. On 14 June 1999 the father initiated his return application in the Family Division of the High Court.
On 5 August the father’s appellation was dismissed on the ground that neither he nor the District Court of Carrigaline had rights of custody at the relevant time. On 11 November 1999 the Court of Appeal allowed the father’s appeal. The mother appealed.