By Stuart Dye
Related nzherald links:
- Read the transcript of the court decision
The mother of kidnapped Jayden Headley consistently ignored court orders, faked a DNA test, took him into hiding in Australia for eight months and brainwashed her son into an almost "pathological alienation" from his father, court documents show.
The Family Court last night took the unusual step of releasing judgments made in the custody battle over the 6-year-old because of the case's high public profile.
Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier said the three judges who made decisions in the case had agreed to have them published. Tuesday's decision by Family Court Judge Rosemary Riddell, which gave Jayden back into the care of his father, Chris Jones, was also published.
The documents show Kay Skelton made a sustained attempt to block any relationship between the boy and his father.
An earlier hearing that same month had been held to establish paternity after Skelton claimed her husband, Brett, was Jayden's father."What is happening is that this child has been and is being relentlessly and ruthlessly cut off from any relationship with his father and his life has already been severely damaged," said Judge David Brown last June when granting Mr Jones' application for care of Jayden.
The court's evidence from its expert is that this situation will be irretrievable if it is not remedied immediately."
She gave the court a certificate that concluded Mr Skelton was more than 99.9 per cent likely to be the father. But Judge Brown said the "[DNA] analysis claimed and relied on by Mrs Skelton was false". A later DNA test proved this to be the case.
"Mrs Skelton is prepared to deceive the court in an active and concerted manner," the judge said. "… there are no limits to the steps she is willing to take."
Those steps are laid out in detail in other judgments.
Jayden was born in May 2000 but, by the end of that year, his parents had separated. The custody battle began in January 2001 when the child was 8 months old and Skelton applied for custody. It was followed by applications and cross-applications for custody, access, suspension of access and a protection order, among many others.
An access regime was put in place but Skelton "ignored court orders, practice and protocol", said Judge Anne McAloon in August 2005. In December 2002, Skelton took her son and lived for eight months on Australia's Gold Coast, only returning when caught and to avoid Hague Convention proceedings.
Mr Jones was granted access to his son and, for a time, it worked well. But, by February 2005, Jayden became scared of his father "occasionally throwing tantrums and expressing extremely negative views about Chris Jones, saying he hated him and didn't want to see him".
In July that year, he told a psychologist Mr Jones was not his father and that he had "jumped in through a window and said he was my father but he is not".
Throughout, Skelton portrayed herself as a concerned mother who did not want to see her child distressed, the judgment says.But she had succeeded in ensuring one way or another that Jayden had not had consistent or meaningful or satisfactory contact with his father for most of his life.
Judge McAloon said Jayden then was too young to have become pathologically alienated from his father but had a series of symptoms consistent with the condition.
The boy was well aware of his starring role in the drama, responding on cue and according to script. "His responses are automatic. He has been conditioned to make them," Judge McAloon said.
"That statement encapsulates the extent and enormity of the psychological abuse to which Jayden has been subjected by his maternal family in the execution of their conspiracy to cut Chris Jones out of Jayden's life, as if the former never existed."