Steve Grant, 54, from Portsmouth
My daughter, Lacey, met Osama in the UK. Osama is from Oman but grew up in England. They had a good relationship and in 2004 they got married. After having been married for a little while, Osama wanted to move back to Dubai. Lacey was excited about the prospect of moving abroad and she and Osama decided to start a family – my grandchildren, Aishah was born in England and Faris was born in Dubai and were given dual nationality.
After seven years in Dubai, Lacey and Osama’s relationship began to breakdown. Osama started to bully Lacey and he soon became mentally abusive towards her. We had always been aware that he had psychotic tendencies and his mood was difficult to gauge, but soon the situation was too much for Lacey to cope with and, deeply unhappy, she returned to the UK with the children in September 2011. Osama acknowledged that the relationship had broken down and gave Lacey written consent to take the children back to the UK with her, effectively granting her full custody of the children.
Lacey moved into a flat with the children when she returned to the UK and Aisha and Faris started going to school. They still saw their father, as some of his family lived in the UK and he would visit them and the children regularly.
One Thursday in July, Osama arranged to take the children to his mother’s house for a few days. This was not out of the norm and Lacey was not concerned. It was agreed that the children would be back with Lacey on Sunday evening.
The following day, when the children were due to be dropped home, Lacey received a text message from Osama saying that he had taken them on holiday. Lacey immediately tried to contact Aisha on her mobile phone but couldn’t get through and Osama wasn’t answering his calls. Angry and fearing the worst, Lacey contacted the police on Sunday afternoon to report the children as missing.
A few hours later, having run searches on all flights leaving the UK, the police discovered that Osama had left the country with the children the day before. He had clearly been planning this for some time.
We instantly assumed that Osama had taken the children to Dubai and the following day, I flew there, leaving Lacey to start legal proceedings in the UK. She then flew to Oman where I travelled onto from Dubai, having been unable to find the children there.
Once Lacey arrived in Oman, we spent the next few days visiting Osama’s relatives, trying to track the children down. We eventually found the children with the help of the Omani police, but whilst we were able to see them and speak to them, Osama refused to let us take them home. Distraught, Lacey and I left the house and we spent the next few days contacting government immigration and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Child Abduction Section.
Over the comings weeks, Lacey and I travelled regularly between the UK and Oman and eventually succeeded in making the children wards of court in the UK. The staff at the Child Abduction Section were very helpful through the entire process and worked with us to try and resolve the situation.
With their assistance, we are now hopefully in the final stages of proceedings and are awaiting news of Aisha and Faris any day now. Whilst it is a slow process, without the Child Abduction Section we wouldn’t be where we are now, hoping for the children to be returned before Christmas.
The financial impact that this case has had on Lacey and me is huge and it is essential that any families experiencing child abduction quickly seek help from the relevant bodies, such as the Child Abduction Section and charities like Reunite.
If you are concerned, or if your child has been abducted, you can contact the FCO’s Child Abduction Section on 0207 008 0878 or www.fco.gov.uk/childabduction, or call Reunite on 0116 2556 234.
Read the FCO news article: Parental Child Abduction is a worldwide problem, 12th December 2012.