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Mom must wait for case hearing

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
After court error gives father custody of sons
Natasha De Silva with her son, Nehemiah, at their home at Prizgar Lands, Laventille, yesterday. De Silva claims that a court error resulted in her losing custody of two of her sons from another relationship. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

A clerical court error may have caused a 34-year-old mother of seven to lose custody of two of her children. 

Laventille resident Natasha De Silva is now seeking any legal aid she can get to assist her in regaining supervision of her children.

The single mother has always taken care of brothers — Nathaniel and Tyrese, aged four and five — and was fighting for full custodial rights at the Port-of-Spain Magistrate’s Family Court.

But when she missed her last court date, due to an error she claims was made by a court official, Magistrate Ejenny Espinet ruled in favour of the boys’ father, Declan Ashton.

She had ended her relationship with Ashton over three years ago and has been going through the custody battle two years now. Her last court appearance was on June 7 when the matter was adjourned to August 23.

But one week before the court date, De Silva said she received a call from the court, a number she is familiar with having dealt with numerous matters at the institution, where an official said the matter was postponed to October 27 for 10.45 am.

It wasn’t until the day after August 23, when the boys’ father came with police officers to her home at Prizgar Lands, Laventille, and took her sons from her care did she realise something was wrong.

“I have restraining order against this man. It is a constant battle with this man. It’s hurting me day and night and the magistrate gave custody of my children to this man,” De Silva said.

She said the letter provided by police revealed the reason for the interim order for legal custody to the children’s father was because De Silva was absent on August 23.

“In the court, by the secretary who does write down everything from the court, it have that I was locked up so he got legal custody of Nathaniel and Tyrese,” De Silva added.

At her neatly packed away rented Ogaro Road home yesterday, De Silva fingered through her call log pointing out to the T&T Guardian when the call came in on August 15 at 11.40 am. Calls to the number confirmed it belonged to the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago.

Brought to tears as she told her story, De Silva said it was hurting her immensely to know her sons were going through that.

“They are just babies and they have everything they need here by me,” she said.

De Silva, who works at a Barataria bakery, told the T&T Guardian she was accustomed to receiving calls from clerks at the court and so did not suspect anything untoward when she got the call telling of the change in the date.

“They call if there is a time change or if a matter postponed because a magistrate is not available. So is a customary thing, so that’s what make me know well right, that’s the court number yes, the matter postponed, so I didn’t pay it any mind. Is the court number but I didn’t know this time was a fraudulent call for me to lose my two kids,” she said.

She said all she wanted now was assistance to pursue legal channels to get back her boys and then seek legal redress.

She added: “I not lying to tell anybody, this is hurting me, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t function properly. It have me in a kind of state of depression. 

“And they telling me the magistrate made her decision and I have to wait till the matter is called back on September 27.”


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