Re K And M (Children) (Abduction: Grave Risk: Intentional Car Crash): No joke

Image: Public Domain, via Piqsels (Yes, I know it's not an Opel...)

There is probably an amusing joke that goes with the case Re K And M (Children) (Abduction: Grave Risk: Intentional Car Crash). But it won’t be told here, as there is nothing remotely amusing about a father intentionally driving his car into a minibus, on which the mother and four children were travelling.

There has been a spate of Hague Convention summary return cases this week (more details to follow in my News Essentials post on Saturday). Perhaps the most striking is Re K And M, which concerned an application by a father for the summary return of his two children to Poland.

The mother and father in the case are both Polish nationals. Their twin boys were born in 2016. Their relationship  ran into difficulties soon after. Despite this, the parents married in 2017.

The mother made various allegations of very serious abuse against the father, and matters came to a head on the 28th of July 2020, when there was an incident in which the father crashed his car into a minibus in which the mother, the maternal grandmother and the children were travelling. His motive for acting in this way was, he said, to prevent the mother from removing the children from him without his consent.

The father received a prison sentence as a result of this incident and, whilst he was in prison, the mother removed the children to England, in November 2020.

The father applied for the summary return of the children to Poland, and the mother raised an Article 13(b) defence.

It will come as no surprise that Richard Harrison QC, hearing the case as a Deputy High Court Judge, found the defence made out. He said: 

"In all the circumstances, I have reached the conclusion that magnitude of the risks which the children would face upon a return coupled with the potential consequences for them were those risks to materialise are of such severity that they can be characterised as 'grave' within the meaning of Article 13(b). In my judgment, there is a grave risk that they would be exposed to both physical and psychological harm and that they would be placed in an intolerable situation.”

Accordingly, the father’s application was dismissed.