The parties lived in the village of Nigrita, Greece. The child was an Australian citizen, the mother was a Greek-born Australian citizen, and the father was a citizen of Greece. In December 1998 the mother, the child and the mother’s parents left Greece and came to Darwin, Australia.
In Greece, the mother had tried to seek medical treatment for the child in the village of Nigrita, and the nearby towns of Serres and Salonika, however no specialist had been able to diagnose what was wrong with the child, nor was any appropriate treatment proposed. Upon his arrival in Australia, the child was diagnosed as suffering from Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Following diagnosis and treatment in Darwin, the child’s behaviour improved. The mother was concerned that if the child were forced to return to Greece, he would revert to his previous dysfunctional behaviour in the absence of treatment available near where they lived in Greece. She therefore argued that there was a grave risk that returning the child to Greece would expose him to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place him in an intolerable situation.
On 31 March 1999 the court of first instance at Serres (Greece) amended its earlier order and granted the father temporary custody of the child. On 4 August 1999 the father petitioned for the return of the child.