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High Court hearing about baby Catlin today

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 1:50 pm Thu 3rd February 2005

Well, I headed off up North for a couple of weeks disconected fron the internet just as the biggest mainstream media news story about fathers and the Family Court in months was breaking, and returned to find our most active discussion to date.

The UK based group Parents For Protest have a comprehensive collection of links to news stories about the Jelicich case on their website, howevewr, here are a few extracts from reports made over the past fortnight.

Supporters of an Auckland father in hiding with his 5-month-old daughter want an investigation into the Family Court handling of the custody case that sparked his actions.

Jim Bagnall, national president of the parental support group Union of Fathers, said important evidence was not considered before the Family Court gave custody of Caitlin to Mrs Jelicich and ruled that the case should be heard in Britain.

Mr Bagnall, who supported Mr Jelicich during the Family Court process, believes the hearings were rushed because it was Christmas.

“I think people were loath to get themselves embroiled in something … and they rushed it through.

“Why should Caitlin not receive better treatment? Why did they bulldoze the whole thing through?”

He said the judge who remanded Mrs Jelicich on the assault charge was the same judge who had awarded her custody of Caitlin the previous day. Mr Bagnall has written to Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier about his concerns.

Diane Jelicich has extended an olive branch to her estranged husband, who is in hiding with their five-month-old daughter, Caitlin.

The Welsh cardio-thoracic nurse is promising to let New Zealander Stephen Jelicich, whom she met on the internet, share Caitlin’s life if he hands her to police.

Union of Fathers spokesman Jim Bagnall said he knew of hundreds of cases in which children were forced apart from one parent because the other parent lived elsewhere.

He believed courts unfairly favoured mothers in custody battles.

Union of Fathers national president Jim Bagnall said last night that he had advised Mr Jelicich to go on the run with Caitlin after his failed Family Court bid for custody.

“I said if you want to make the point, you’ve got one option,” he said.

“However, at 39 years old, Mr Jelicich was a mature man who could make up his own mind whether to run.”

On 14th January, NewstalkZB reported that the Union of Fathers group is surprised
more men have not resorted to going into hiding with their children over concerns about custody cases.

Spokesman Darryl Carlin says it is desperation that often leads men into taking this type of action.

He says he is constantly surprised fathers generally are as patient as they are but says incidents like this could become more common unless the court system is changed.

However, Mr Carlin says the Union of Fathers cannot encourage men to break the law by going into hiding with their children when they do not have custody.

A group of Mr Jelicich’s supporters mounted a protest on 19th Jan outside Waitakere District Court, where the case was originally heard.

Union of Fathers spokesman Jim Bagnall said Mr Jelicich’s supporters believed he had not got a fair hearing so far in his custody dispute with his estranged wife, Diane Jelicich.

“What was he supposed to do?” he said.

“He did what any loving father would do.”

Mr Bagnall argued that courts often treated fathers unfairly and Mr Jelicich would not have been given another chance if he had not acted as he did.

“I think it has led to public interest in the case and the authorities are trying to look as though they are actually doing something on behalf of Caitlin.”

Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier took the unusual step of releasing information from the court file yesterday, because he said the media had not reported the case fairly.

The file shows that, on December 1, Mr Jelicich applied for an order preventing Caitlin’s removal from New Zealand. She was due to return on January 10 to Wales.

Although this order was initially granted, the judge set it aside at a subsequent hearing on December 24, enabling either parent to return to Wales with Caitlin.

The court also made co-parenting arrangements until January 10, as agreed to by both parents.

Judge Boshier said Mr Jelicich applied to stay this order on January 5 because he wished to appeal against it.

The application was heard on January 6 by Judge John Adams, who declined to interfere with the previous judge’s order.

“Judge Adams took the view that if there was to be a contest as to Caitlin’s custody, it should occur in Wales, because that was Caitlin’s homeland,” Judge Boshier said.

Judge Boshier said that, in the two hearings in which orders were made, the judges considered evidence from both parties. They also had the benefit of submissions from lawyers for each parent to assist in making their decisions. Caitlin was represented by her own lawyer.

However Stuart Birks takes issue with Judge Boshier’s claim that the media will now be able to report the case fairly:

when Vivienne Ullrich, now a Family Court Judge, was the Law Commissioner
responsible for Report 82, Dispute Resolution in the Family Court .

The report suggests that gender bias would have to be observed through judicial decisions, but, in paragraph 1021, these are dismissed as a meaningful source: “Statistical assessments based on such judgements may not be valid. The judge selects facts to background his or her decision,
and this selection can distort the information that was actually available to the judge.”

Needless to say, we cannot expect the public to see Judge Adams’ reasons if the decision presents a selected, and possibly distorted picture of the evidence.

Meanwhile, the British Government has invoked the Hague Convention, through New Zealand authorities, in an attempt to have Caitlin returned to Wales.

A Queen’s Counsel appointed by the Ministry of Justice has filed proceedings in the Waitakere Family Court.

The convention is an international treaty that aims to return children to the country in which they usually reside so custody issues can be resolved there.

Mr Jelicich’s lawyer, Rod Hooker, told NZPA this morning he did not know when the application would be heard, as he had not yet seen the papers filed.

“It is fair to say that the Family Court always gives Hague Convention cases priority, but the Family Court is inundated with priority cases,” he said.

“I think maybe four to six weeks would be the best-case scenario.”

Mr Hooker said there were two key issues in relation to the Hague Convention application.

“What is the place of habitual residence?

“Secondly, the courts do not send a child back if there is a grave risk to the child. We would argue that there is a grave risk.”

A hearing about the future of baby Catlin Jelicich is being held in the High Court today to decide if the custody case should be heard in Wales or New Zealand.


  1. The Family Court is a terrible disgrace. Judges act like they are above the law and the rest of New Zealand are to scared to say anything. Are judges not human beings capable of serious mistakes. Just like bloody politicans they seem to be accountable to any body. Our children are doomed . God save our insidious country.

    Comment by Peter Burns — Thu 3rd February 2005 @ 5:16 pm

  2. peter,i obviously agree with your view.there were some very serious deficiencies with judge mathers custody ruling in my case.firstly he completely overturned another judgement made only 3 days earlier where it was considered by the court that there were issues relating to my daughters safety that warranted further investigation.He over turned that ruling on the only new evidence of an assault against me by Caitlins mother.not that i want to be quoted as to this,buti also have now been informed that under section 16 1 b (i think) of the guardianship act the court was lawfully unable to grant custody where there are spousal voilence issues raised.The spouse in question in this case was actually on bail for assaulting me at the time of the hearing,and the court was well aware of this.
    the very same judge mathers also then sat on the criminal hearing aginst my ex spouse,and in the complete arrogance of not even pretending any anbias said that he remembered the custody case,and as diane was planning to leave nz on the tenth he would remand her again to the thirteenth and “effectively it would be over”.the judge broke all court protocols,there was no reading of summary of facts,noone from police or court had even bothered to inform or consult me on proceedings as guaranteed under the victims rights act 2002.from there the courts story gets even worse.

    regards steve jelicich

    Comment by steve jelicich — Fri 4th February 2005 @ 10:50 pm

  3. Dear Steve Lets hope Judges come clean for the sake of our beautiful children. Remember mate- we are only loving/ gentle Dads who have been shafted by a bias cruel regime that is totally unaccountable. Steve no matter what happens to your darling daughter and my two lost daughters we must tell ourselves we are good Dads as we love our girls. We are not the monsters the media/ Family Court loves to make out us to be.
    God bless you mate try and keep the head up mate as its the only thing we can do.- Pete

    Comment by Peter Burns — Sun 6th February 2005 @ 7:22 am

  4. thanx for the support peter,i suggest you keep your eyse on the media soon.lets just say its about to hit the fan.

    Comment by steve jelicich — Tue 8th February 2005 @ 9:31 pm

  5. I’m really interested in this and the other similar situation with the american woman (Julie Gilbert?) who kidnapped her son, Skye, from her husband in america because he “emotionally abused” the boy -what on earth does “emotionally abused” mean? Could this woman be over-reacting? Are we getting too PC? Most parents do experience anger in relation to children’s misbehaviour for instance – is that emotional abuse? Hmmm, I don’t think she had any right to take her boy to another country, it can’t be easy on the boy being dragged all over the place and being in hiding. However some would say that this is exactly what Stephen has done with Caitlin, although thankfully on a lesser scale. She was only 5 months old and was used to being with her mother 24/7 – it must have been devastating being separated. Can’t have been good. I’m not taking sides here, but this abduction trend, face it – that is what it is, is not good for the children, and I personally think that whoever does it should not get away with it. I think that Steve J should not have got what he wanted because it is not the way to “bargain”. However, I do think that Steve should not be hindered from a future relationship with his little girl either. My 2c.

    Comment by Julianne — Sat 5th March 2005 @ 1:32 pm

  6. Having read the last comment,I am concerned that there is still some misunderstandings surrounding my particular case and would like to address them.
    I have been Caitlins caregiver since birth. I was to be the stay at home dad on our return to wales.Caitlin has been bottle fed since birth.
    It was Mrs Jelicich who assaulted me and told me she was returning to Wales with Caitlin and that I was not to return with them and I would not see Caitlin again. This effectively left me stranded in NZ with no realistic options of returning to Wales to be with my daughter.
    Prior to the ‘abduction’,there had been some very serious misconduct by the family court and supporting agencies. This included their neglect (Possibly willfull)to apply statuatory NZ laws,that are there to protect children. Not only were Caitlins and my rights abused,the very people that perpetrated that abuse are now trying to hide that abuse under the umbrella of the family court secrecy,which includes warnings to the press not to publish details of those abuses.
    This is obviously a summary of events and I welcome discussing the matter further should anyone wish to.

    Steve Jelicich

    Comment by steve jelicich — Mon 7th March 2005 @ 5:16 pm

  7. I am not an abuser!!! I slapped the man that had made my life miserable for 5 years with his mental cruelty, example, I lost a deformed baby, had a breakdown, no support from stephen who then bought a dog and let it sleep in bed with us, giving it the care and attention i needed.
    Any person who was cruelly taking their child away would be angry. A whole family turned against me, police filed false reports bcoz they knew the family. There is not enough space here for me to tell u all of the disgusting things he and his family did to me and my now 12 yr old daughter, u wouldn’t treat a dog that way. Never was i asked by them what was really going on, they took his word every step of the way, big mistake. He lies, he cheats and he thinks he’s above all others one comment he made about Caitlins upbringing was that he was going to home school her so she wouldn’t mix with blacks! thats the kind of person he really is not the concerened one u see. This was a war for him to win and if he didn’t he no longer had a daughter, his words not mine. True to his word he has not contacted her for a year, missed her 1st birthday and refuses help financially. She has been in hospital since returning with a upper resp tract inf, he was told of this but wasn’t bothered. None of the family has ever contacted her with the exception of his mother on 2 occassions. I LOVE MY DAUGHTER I want the best for her and I’m working at doing that, he ruined both my and caitlins lifes emotionally and financially. Within weeks of us being back in uk he moved in with another woman and stated he wanted divorce as she was pregnant, i sent papers but he has yet to sign and return them. There are so many bad things I could tell u about this close family, twins that havent spoken in years, one ignores his brothers girls bcoz of that,etc,etc. Ppl just believe what they want to, they should at least know all the facts. If he had won I would still be in nz, NOTHING would keep me away from Caitlin. Stephen on the other hand will make excuse after excuse not to be with her, he thinks thats ok becoz its what he wants. Do you really think he gives a damn about Caitlin? Think again! Me Myself and I is what he is

    Comment by Diane jelicich — Sun 23rd April 2006 @ 6:39 pm

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