Father wins custody of youngsters regardless of suspicions about function in companion’s disappearance

A provincial court judge has ordered two children to return to their father after they were taken out of custody when their mother disappeared, a crime of which the father is suspected.

Despite the ruling, the Vancouver Police Department says they are holding on to their suspicions.

“Our investigators have previously raised concerns that the father has custody of the children. Our concerns remain, but we respect the family court’s decision, ”Sergeant Steve Addison said in a statement emailed.

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However, Judge Wilson Lee says he is in favor of returning the children, ages 14 and 12, listed by initials in the decision, to their father.

“The only concern that speaks against the return of the children is concern for the safety of the children if the father was involved in the mother’s disappearance,” he wrote.

“Given that the police have not brought charges in three years, these concerns are more speculation than suspicion.”

The also nameless father has yet to be charged with the disappearance of the mother – his wife – but the judge ruled that if he is the provincial director for children, family and community service, a party to the court action can act to protect the children.

He said the children’s emotional needs were met by their father and when they were with him they were best able to maintain their relationship with him and their inheritance. “Let the children’s views return to their father,” observed Justice Lee.

On January 8, 2018, the children’s mother disappeared, and on January 22, Vancouver police arrested and questioned the father about the disappearance, which resulted in the provincial director taking care of the children.

The father had a previous relationship with his first wife from 1994 to 2000, and the couple had one child. His relationship with the mother of the two children, who was central to the new ruling, began in either 2005 or 2006 and lasted until 2017, according to the ruling.

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Justice Lee’s decision lists various incidents of domestic conflict that led to police operations, including an incident in 2006 where the father hit his son with a wooden spoon to take the child to the bathroom. A risk assessment for family violence carried out on the father found that he had a history of domestic family violence in the form of intimate partner violence and child abuse or neglect for more than 15 years. It was recommended that the children remain in the care of the principal and that the father supervise the visits.

The report cited two incidents in June 2017 where both the father and mother of the children called the police to say they were each threatening the other and a second incident where there was a dispute over property went. “[The incidents] did not appear to involve actual physical violence. In light of the above, I disagree with the report’s conclusions that the father’s involvement in domestic violence is “chronic” or recurrent, “wrote Justice Lee.

The director requested continued custody of the two children, an action the father, who oversaw access to the children, refused to do.

Judge Lee ruled on this director’s motion, which was filed in February 2020.

According to the verdict, social worker Jennifer Donnelly testified that the children were “fairly attached” to their father and that they “light up” when they see him.

But the VPD had a different view. According to the verdict, a detective testified to police in June 2019 upon hearing that the father was suspected of being involved in his wife’s disappearance and that he was likely to be charged as a result.

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