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Boy FOUND! Melinda Thompson arrested in Amsterdam

Boy FOUND! Melinda Thompson arrested in Amsterdam

Information to hand this morning advised that Andrew has been found in Amsterdam. He is now is now in the care of a family pending a court process that has to be followed.

Melinda Thompson has been taken into secured custody and is under arrest.
Ken Thompson said
I wanted to get to Amsterdam before news got out but I've just arrived here & it is the front page story in today's Sydney Morning Herald.
Australian authorities say Andrew, 4, was abducted by his mother, Mr Thompson's estranged wife Melinda, on April 24 this year.

The pair flew from Sydney to Singapore and then on to the German city of Frankfurt, where they disappeared.

FLWG has extensively reported on this story.

From SMH

Almost three years after his son went missing, former NSW deputy fire chief Ken Thompson has learned the six-year-old boy is in Amsterdam.

Andrew Thompson was three years old when he was abducted in Sydney by his mother, Melinda Stratton, on April 24, 2008, after a custody battle.

Ms Stratton eluded the Australian Federal Police, Interpol and missing children's organisations until she was picked up on Monday after attempting to enrol Andrew in school.

Noticing the six-year-old's passport had expired, the school's principal ran a security check and discovered the boy was the subject of more than 180 Interpol alerts.

Mr Thompson quit his job in May to cycle across Europe on a public crusade to find his son.
Ken Thompson told Macquarie Radio from Amsterdam said
I didnt know where in Europe he might be, having just arrived in the city.

I just knew Europe was the most likely place, so I decided I would do whatever I could do to raise public awareness to Andrew, and to some other kids who are missing in Europe as well, by riding a bicycle and just trying to generate as much media interest as I could in Andrew.
A family friend, Robin Bowles, said police had contacted Mr Thompson advising him that his son was safe with welfare officials and his former wife was in custody. Arrangements for her extradition were due to be raised in a court appearance yesterday.
Ms Bowles a family friend said
Ken's ecstatic, emotional, relieved, overjoyed and still in a total state of shock

It is no secret there were fears for both Melinda's and Andrew's safety and the longer time went on, the fear grew deeper within Ken that maybe he'd never see his son again. He wants to see him. He can't wait a moment longer.
Ms Stratton fled Australia four months after she and Mr Thompson failed to reach a custody settlement. She flew with Andrew to Germany, then vanished. In a letter to her family, she claimed she was forced to flee after losing faith in the Family Court over its handling of serious allegations she levelled against her former husband.

But in December 2008 Mr Stratton successfully lobbied the Family Court to lift a ban on identifying Andrew and his plight.

In granting the order, the court allowed Mr Thompson to release a psychiatric report  compiled before his former wife's disappearance  revealing she had a paranoia disorder that severely impaired her ability as a parent.
Ken Thompson said
He is safe. Well hopefully now get him back to Australia and then Melinda and I can resume the process that needs to be resumed, that was started in 2008.
Wayne Butler, Executive Secretary of the Shared Parenting Council said
We are excited for Ken that he has finally found his boy, but will be watching the story closely to ensure that over zealous authorities never repeat the disgraceful series of vents that took place in WA some years ago. In that matter.. The Russel Wood case… the children were returned to Western Australia and placed into German speaking foster care for nearly two years and the father had the most minimal contact.

Quote #1: The mother of abducted boy Andrew Thompson  under arrest in Amsterdam and facing a prison term in Australia  could be offered a "get out of jail free" card, under a new system to resolve international custody battles. A new form of cross-border mediation, tested in the Netherlands, will provide Melinda Stratton with a last-ditch chance to avoid criminal charges  and help parent her little boy  if she can co-operate and come to a binding, workable agreement is accepted by his father, Ken Thompson.

Quote #2: An alert Dutch woman checked her suspicions about the little boy and his mother on the internet and Googled "missing children" and "Australia" and discovering he had been kidnapped. It was her decision to contact Dutch police that traced him and led to the arrest of his mother.


SMH - Sunday
12 September 2010

Kidnap mother may escape jail in new deal By Paola Totaro, Amsterdam

The mother of abducted boy Andrew Thompson  under arrest in Amsterdam and facing a prison term in Australia  could be offered a "get out of jail free" card, under a new system to resolve international custody battles.

A new form of cross-border mediation, tested in the Netherlands, will provide Melinda Stratton with a last-ditch chance to avoid criminal charges  and help parent her little boy  if she can co-operate and come to a binding, workable agreement is accepted by his father, Ken Thompson.

This system, thrashed out over two days under intense specialist mediation with a team of counsellors and lawyers, must be agreed to by both parents  and becomes a legally binding order in both the Netherlands and Australia.

Mr Thompson, met a team of psychologists in Amsterdam yesterday and drove to The Hague to meet the legal expert on the Hague conventions who is to manage the complex legal processes needed to return the six-year-old to his father.

It is now likely that he will need to remain in the Netherlands for at least three months as custodial orders from Australia are translated into Dutch and given effect in the local courts. These will allow the legal handover of Andrew while extradition proceedings against his mother unfold.
Ms Stratton faces criminal charges and up to 13 years in prison in Australia if she refuses to participate in cross-border mediation system.

This could even result in the boy remaining in the Netherlands with his father as the legal processes unfold there while his mother is extradited to Australia to face charges.

Mr Thompson said yesterday he understood an agreement could be enforced very quickly  perhaps within a fortnight  if there was co-operation between the two parents to come to a resolution in the interests of the child.

He has yet to see his child but insists that he bears no malice towards his wife and, while deeply anguished by the events of the past 2 years, simply wants to "be a dad to Andrew, to be in his life to love him and to give him back the human rights that were taken away from him".

Mr Thompson, visibly relieved after his day with lawyers and psychologists, said he believed Andrew's was the first case worldwide in which the internet had been used successfully to track down an abducted child.

"We did it on a shoestring and so many fantastic people have helped me. I lived on less than 50 euro a day for the past four months  and I found my son.

"OK, my legal fees are horrendous … overdraft on overdraft on overdraft, and I don't even want to think about my mobile telephone bill. But I could not give up. Ever. A young guy with the fire services built the FindAndrew website for me  and he had never done this before. I had the most amazing people helping me if I was in trouble with electronic banking or a lost card. I had emails, thousands of them, in support. I've got people around the world who saw my plight and felt something. I can't thank them all enough.

"I hope, I really hope that my wife will co-operate and that we can find a way for Andrew. I will stay here for as long as it takes and until Andrew is ready to move on. I have an EU passport and no visa issues … It will take time to reintroduce the relationship. It has to be carefully managed."

It is understood that the little boy now both speaks Dutch and has lived under a different surname.

Psychologists have made clear that the reintroduction must be slow and carefully supervised as it is not known what the little boy has been told during the years of avoiding authorities.

Mr Thompson, a former NSW deputy fire chief, cycled 6500 kilometres across Europe to raise awareness of international child abductions and to distribute bumper stickers with Andrew's face and promote his website to try and find his boy.

An alert Dutch woman checked her suspicions about the little boy and his mother on the internet and Googled "missing children" and "Australia" and discovering he had been kidnapped. It was her decision to contact Dutch police that traced him and led to the arrest of his mother.


Edited

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