Divorce proceedings trap Singaporean man in London

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Raffles Marina
Raffles Marina

A Singaporean man, under the pseudonym of ‘Ben’ in local Singapore media, engaged in divorce proceedings is stuck in London and unable to return to Singapore. This is despite his son being forcibly taken from his parents’ home in Singapore two months ago.

Entering Singapore illegally, his Mongolian wife defied a court order and attempted to smuggle their son, a two-year-old, outside the country. As a result, she was jailed for ten weeks in September.

Ongoing divorce proceedings and a furious custody battle caused Ben, 36, to lose his job as a bank executive job, as well as leading him to being jailed and ordered by a British court to stay out of his own London apartment. Furthermore, he is unable to return to Singapore.

His passport was impounded after allegations of marital rape by his wife.

On Tuesday, his wife, who lived in London on a spouse dependent pass, was released on remission and deported to Mongolia. The 30-year-old woman had admitted to entering Singapore illegally on the 19th of August, having hired a catamaran in Malaysia in her attempt to smuggle her son out of Singapore.

Her accomplices — Adam Christopher Whittington, 38, the British managing director of Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI), and Australian national Todd Allan Wilson, 39, the catamaran owner – were jailed 16 weeks and 10 weeks respectively. The court had heard how Ben’s wife and Whittington went to his parents’ apartment and took their child by force, leaving the elderly parents hurt after they put up a struggle. Ben’s wife eventually took the boy away.

CARI has performed 101 successful recovery missions to date. But the Singapore mission — its 102nd — was a complete disaster. Whittington and Wilson were arrested within six hours of the kidnapping, a credit to the competence of the Singapore Police Force.

According to Ben, “It was past 1am when I received a phone call from my mother, who was hysterical. She told me that she and my father were assaulted by an unknown Caucasian man at the lift landing just outside their apartment… I was very distressed as I was stuck in London, unable to come home to my family’s aid in their hour of need.”

Following her arrest, Ben applied to the British High Court to release his passport, in order to return to care for his family. But due to a shortage of judges, his application couldn’t be heard. On return to court in September, he found the judge hadn’t read his documents, with the court intending to wait until his wife was released from prison.

Ben said he met his wife in a bar at Singapore’s Hyatt Hotel in December 2010, before marrying in June 2011 and moving to London in October 2011. Their son was born in July 2012. However, the marriage deteriorated when his wife started to physically abuse him, according to Ben.

In July 2013, the couple took their son back to Singapore, to place in the custody of Ben’s parents, before returning to London. In January this year, Ben filed for divorce in the Singapore courts, while his wife initiated divorce proceedings in London.

Since the incident, Ben has taken out an order from a Singapore court to restrain his wife from leaving Singapore with their son. Meanwhile, she has obtained a British court order to return their son to her custody. However, Ben is unable to travel to effect the return of their son, as a result of his passport being impounded.

As of October, his parents have taken out court proceedings to maintain custody of their grandson, and intend not to return the child to the UK.