Mum faces three years in jail for ‘kidnapping’ son
Nightmare for Irish woman’s family as Belgian ex seeks extradition
AN Irish mother accused of kidnapping her own son and fleeing to Britain, is facing extradition to Belgium to serve jail time.
Natasha Hayes, 35, who is originally from Dingle, Co. Kerry, moved from Belgium to the UK seven years ago with her son.
She now faces three years in prison as his Belgian father claims that she took the now 14-year-old boy out of the country without permission. The mother-of-three was sentenced by a Belgian court in her absence.
Since moving to Britain, Ms Hayes, who now lives in Hull in the east of England, has married again and works as a cleaner and parttime pole dancing instructor.
She says this is the second time her ex has tried to get her extradited back to Belgium.
She said: ‘The first I knew about the case was in 2012, two years after we arrived in Hull.
‘Two policemen came and knocked on my door. They arrested me and I spent the night in the cells.
‘Then they drove me down to Westminster Magistrates Court where I had to answer the charges.
‘I just couldn’t believe what was happening.’
Ms Hayes faced charges of abduction and illicit restraint, and relied on legal aid to fight the trial at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London in May 2013.
She won under human rights laws because she successfully argued she had a right to a family life in Hull.
Her son has remained a ward of the courts since that first trial.
But on September 13 this year, Ms Hayes was again woken by a knock at the door and she was transported back to London to face a new charge of kidnap.
She was released on bail pending the full hearing which will take place in Westminster Magistrates Court on October 24.
As part of her bail conditions she is on a curfew between midnight and 4am.
She must also always have her mobile phone on her person, fully charged 24 hours a day and has had to surrender her passport.
‘We really thought it was all over and done with last time. I stayed in contact with my ex and we invited to pay for him to come and visit my son.
‘He seemed keen to forge a relationship but he never turned up.
‘I don’t know when they sen- tenced me in Belgium. That’s what my team of lawyers are trying to find out.
‘It’s such a strain knowing that this is hanging over our heads. I can’t really think about anything else these days.’
Ms Hayes explained she isn’t eligible for legal aid this time around and doesn’t know how she is going to raise the money to cover the court costs, which she estimates to be around £5,000 (about €5,700).
She said she split up from her ex when her son was just six months old. Ms Hayes, who has two other children aged 12 and ten, lived in Belgium with her children for another seven years after the split. She says her ex did not have a big role in her son’s life.
However, she says their relationship was always extremely difficult.
‘I lived in Ostend where I ran a pub and it got to the point where I just wanted a better life for my family away from him.
‘When I left, my ex seemed to understand. We shook hands and I thought that was the end of it.
‘I just don’t understand what he can get out of it other than me going to jail.’
Ms Hayes left Belgium in 2010 with her young family and met her husband of three years, Neil, 34.
‘The effect it’s had on our lives has been huge,’ he said. ‘It’s brought a lot of stress on us. We know we’ve got to try and carry on with our lives and keep living as normal but it’s a lot of stress.
‘We are worried it will mean they take Natasha away from the kids.
‘It’s absolutely devastating. We thought this was all done and dusted. It’s hard not knowing what will happen.’
The family have set up a GoFundme page to raise money for legal costs.
Spent night in the cells
Sentenced: Natasha Hayes with her children