Jeremy O’Connor drove his ex-wife Yolandie Botha and their then four-year-old boy Joshua to the airport for a month-long holiday to South Africa in 2014 – and hasn’t seen either of them since. He did not suspect, his ex wife would abduct their son.
The 48-year-old, from Navan, Co Meath, contacted the authorities to report the parental child abduction and said he was told a court case would be held within a year under the Hague Convention.
However, three years on Jeremy, who has three other children, still awaits a court case to get his son back.
Although he Skypes Joshua, now seven, regularly, he hasn’t held him in three years and is worried his son is beginning to forget his relatives.
Jeremy said: “Under the Hague Convention, a parental child abduction case is expedited in under a year to avoid a child becoming settled in another country.”
But South African authorities have deferred court hearings three times, with no new date given.
Jeremy, who works in sales, added: “Yolandie and I split amicably after being together a number of years.
“I had absolutely no problem with her taking Joshua to South Africa for a month-long holiday to see her family.
“I signed the necessary consent forms and even drove them to the airport. That was the last time I saw my son.
“She contacted me before she was due to return to tell me they weren’t coming back.”
Jeremy says that under access rights, he is allowed to contact Joshua through online video chats.
He said: “I Skype him regularly but haven’t seen him in over three years. I also have other children who miss him dreadfully and he has missed out on a lot of special family occasions.
“I was really close to Joshua when he was here and now I only see him on a screen. I can’t even hug him.
“My mother – his grandmother – Skyped him the other day and he didn’t know who she was.
“She was devastated and cried no end. I feel failed by the South African authorities.
“They haven’t appointed me a solicitor and every court date has been deferred.”
Jeremy now fears, due to the length of time elapsed, a court might rule Joshua is settled in South Africa and it would be an upheaval to move him.
If your child has been parentally abducted, contact Pegasus Child Recovery today.
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