‘Major victory’ for dad in four-year child tussle
A “final” order issued last week by the Jamaican Supreme Court has kindled renewed optimism for a father locked in a four-year international tussle to regain custody of his minor son.
Desmond McKenzie, who resides in Portland, has not spoken to his son since December 2018.
He last saw the boy in August 2018, when he agreed to allow Daisy Raymond, the child’s grandmother, to take the then six-year-old to the United States to spend the summer holidays with her daughter, Lacy-Ann Raymond, his mother, and return with him in time for the start of school in September.
Daisy Raymond, a retired teacher, returned to the island in September 2018 without the child.
Both women have failed to comply with two previous court orders to return the now 10-year-old boy to his father.
Supreme Court judge Maxine Jackson, in a “final order” handed down last Wednesday, awarded sole custody of the child to McKenzie and again directed that his son be returned to him.
Jackson also directed that the court order be served on Lacy-Ann Raymond via two advertisements in the North American edition of The Gleaner newspaper.
For McKenzie and his attorney, Lorenzo Eccleston, Jackson’s ruling is significant because it opens up new legal channels in Jamaica and the US that they can now use to compel Lacy-Ann to return the child, both men disclosed during a Sunday Gleaner interview last Thursday.
“It’s a major victory,” said McKenzie, even as he tried to temper his expectations.
“There is still a lot more to achieve, but without this order that we have just received, our hands were tied. So, it’s a step in the right direction.”
Eccleston declined to disclose details of their new approach, but said they have already made contact with a Jamaican authority.
That agency, he said, has provided a “positive” response, which he will review and “proceed accordingly”.
But the attorney believes the new order dramatically increases his client’s chances of regaining custody of his son.
“Yesterday, our chance of getting the child was 10 per cent. Now, at least we have a 50-50 or 60-40 chance in our favour because we have a final order that we can take to relevant institutions and/or the American jurisdiction,” he said, acknowledging that “enforcement remains a challenge”.
CHILD NEEDS BOTH PARENTS
Daisy Raymond, who spent one night in police custody last year after she failed to comply with the second court order issued in 2019, has insisted that she does not know the whereabouts of her daughter and grandson.
“I do not know where the second defendant and/or the minor currently reside and do not know how to locate them,” the retiree said in court documents filed last year, which were seen by The Sunday Gleaner.
McKenzie said that despite the emotional toll of his four-year ordeal, he still would not deny Lacy-Ann access to the child if he regains custody.
“It is my belief that every child needs the nurturing of both parents,” said McKenzie, who is married and has since fathered another child.
Eccleston described his client’s perseverance in seeking to be reunited with his son as worthy of commendation.
“You must commend a male figure, a father in our jurisdiction ... . We know how we tend to bash fathers for not being present in the lives of their children,” said the attorney.