Irish Daily Mail


I changed their nappies, I love them... we want them back, says grandmothe­r of Jack and Sarah

- By Catherine Fegan in North Carolina

THE mother of the late Mags Corbett, whose orphaned children Jack and Sarah are at the centre of a transatlan­tic custody battle, has made a dramatic interventi­on in the row over their future.

Marian Fitzpatric­k says her late daughter would have wanted the children to be brought home to Ireland following the death of their father, Jason Corbett, in the US.

‘I minded those children,’ she told the Mail yesterday. ‘I changed their nappies and fed them, looked after them.

‘They are all we have left of Mags and we love them and will always love them.’ As their maternal grandmothe­r, Mrs Fitzpatric­k is among Jack, ten, and eight- year- old Sarah’s closest blood relatives – and insists that they should be raised by family, rather than by people to whom they have no biological ties.

‘Their mum and dad are dead and their other family are here,’ she said. ‘We want them back.’

At present, Jack and Sarah are in the

custody of their stepmother Molly Martens, an au pair who married Jason Corbett in the years after Mags’s 2006 death from an asthma attack.

Extraordin­arily, Ms Martens and her father are the only ‘ persons of interest’ in the death of Limerick man Mr Corbett, who was battered to death with a baseball bat at the family home in Panther Creek Court, Wallburg, North Carolina, two weeks ago.

Mrs Fitzpatric­k said Mr Corbett had always made sure that the children stayed close to their late mother’s family in Ireland.

‘Jason always kept contact with us,’ she said. ‘ They came home in August for two weeks and then he surprised us at Christmas and it was like winning the Lotto.

‘They just arrived at my door and it was the best Christmas present I could have got. The kids were delighted because they were going to two houses for Christmas and we had presents from both houses. It was fantastic.’

The distraught grandmothe­r was moved to tears as she described the only phone call she has had with the children since their father died.

‘I only spoke to the children for a few seconds,’ Mrs Fitzpatric­k added. ‘I told them I loved them and that’s

‘They’d be fantastic guardians’

the last I have heard from them.’ Mr Corbett’s sister Tracey Lynch last week faced Ms Martens in a US court as the two sides battled for custody of the orphaned children, both of whom are Irish citizens.

‘It’s all on (Tracey Lynch’s husband) David and Tracey out there,’ Mrs Fitzpatric­k told the Mail.

‘They are absolutely brilliant and I know they would be fantastic guardians to those children. Mags was very close to Tracey. They did everything together.

‘Mags stood for Tracey’s son and they were always in each other’s company. We have always been very close to the Corbett family, be it Communions, birthday parties, we all get together. We always maintained the relationsh­ip.’

Mrs Fitzpatric­k said the tragedy had brought back the loss of her own daughter nine years ago. ‘I never imagined that this could happen. I lost my daughter, and this brings it all back, but I never thought Jason would come back like this.’

She said she was heartbroke­n and angered to learn that Tracey and David Lynch have been allowed no contact with the children since arriving in the US just days after Mr Corbett’s brutal killing.

‘I am very concerned about the Martens family,’ she said.

Mrs Fitzpatric­k also said she feels the children have been abandoned by the Government. ‘The Irish Government are great when it comes to looking for votes but are they going to stand up for two vulnerable Irish citizens who need their help? Tracey and David have yet to see them.

‘It’s very hard to believe that two Irish citizens cannot go home to Ireland to the two families that love them so much. I know that Mags and Jason would want them here in Ireland. It’s just heartbreak­ing for us to feel so helpless.’ A decision on the custody issue is expected to be made on Thursday. A guardian ‘ad litem’ was appointed for the children during the proceeding­s to make sure their interests are protected. He or she will interview the children early this week.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the children are staying with a stepuncle who has been arrested for drink-driving with a child in the car.

Ms Martens and the children have been staying with her brother Robert, a federal agent with the Internal Revenue Service, while authoritie­s decide who should be given longterm custody of Jack and Sarah.

Police records show that Robert Martens, also known as Bobby, was arrested for driving while impaired as well as misdemeano­ur child abuse in June 2014. The Mail understand­s he was alleged to be under the influence of alcohol and was driving with a child who was not wearing a safety belt. He is due in court next month.

Last night Mr Corbett’s brother John said he was gravely concerned for the welfare of his nephew and niece: ‘How can the North Carolina family welfare officials deem it safe for them to be at that house?

‘This is an environmen­t that was deemed safe and protected by officials and now this has come to light. The decision Thursday could change the lives of my nephew and niece.

‘On top of what has come to light about Robert Martens, Molly Martens and her father have been named by police as persons of interest in relation to my brother’s death. How can these individual­s be even considered for custody of my nephew and niece?’

It has emerged that Thomas Martens is a retired FBI agent with more than 30 years service, while Molly’s maternal uncle, Michael Earnest, is a federal agent in Washington DC.

John Corbett expressed concern about the family’s connection­s, saying: ‘I feel that there are sinister behind-the-scenes forces at work in relation to the Martens family police and judicial contacts.

‘This circus is still ongoing and it is being deliberate­ly prolonged and obstructed by the Martens family and their lawyers regarding the future of my brother’s children.’

 ??  ?? Close bond: Marian Fitzpatric­k with Jack and Sarah Wedding day: The late Mags Fitzpatric­k and Jason
Close bond: Marian Fitzpatric­k with Jack and Sarah Wedding day: The late Mags Fitzpatric­k and Jason Corbett
 ??  ?? Suspect: Molly Martens
Suspect: Molly Martens

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