Vancouver judge orders children returned to father suspected in mom’s disappearance
A judge has ordered that two children who were apprehended after their mother vanished three years ago be returned to the custody of their father, who remains a suspect in the disappearance.
The mom, who is only identified by initials in the judge’s ruling, disappeared on Jan. 8, 2018, resulting in the Vancouver police detaining the father and questioning him.
Although the police investigation remains ongoing, according to the ruling, the father has never been charged with any criminal offence.
The two children, now 12 and 14, had been taken into care by the director of child, family and community service and placed in a foster home.
In April 2018, a judge granted the director a temporary custody order with the consent of the father, who was allowed to have supervised access to the children at the discretion of the director.
The father opposed an application by the director for extension of the order in June 2019, but a judge found that the children were in need of protection and the application was approved.
At the June 2019 hearing, the judge heard that the father was suspected of being involved in his wife’s disappearance and that he was likely to be charged.
Police were concerned that the children were at risk because they were potential witnesses against the father and there were concerns about the unpredictability of the man’s behaviour.
In February, the director sought another extension of the custody order, but the dad, who chose not to testify at the hearing because of the police investigation, opposed the move.
A social worker testified that she had no concerns regarding the father’s supervised visits with the children, which she described as being positive, and the kids remain quite attached to their dad.
Reports from an access supervisor were also positive and raised no concerns.
A report that looked at the risk of violence involving the father in a family context recommended that the children remain in the director’s care and that the dad continue to have supervised visits.
The report, prepared for the director, found that the father had a history of domestic violence in the form of intimate partner violence and child abuse or neglect.
But in his ruling on the case, Provincial Court Judge Wilson Lee said that in his view, only two incidents of the dad being involved in domestic violence had occurred, both in 2006.
One of the incidents was instigated by the man’s first wife and the second incident appeared to have been corrected by police, said the judge.
There may have been heated disagreements between the man and the wife who has vanished, but they did not appear to have involved any actual physical violence, he said.
“As the evidence makes clear, there are no current protection concerns aside from the suggestion from the police that Criminal Code charges are imminent. However, there is no indication that charges are, in fact, imminent.”
The judge ordered the children be returned to their father with several conditions, including that they be under the director’s supervision for six months.
In a brief statement, the ministry of children and family development said it would abide by the ruling.