A teenage mum yesterday told how she is being quarantined without a cot for her baby after being ordered to return to Malta by a Scottish judge.
Leigha Collins, 18, said she and her baby Hayes face 14 days in a single room in a self-catering apartment after a gruelling 24-hour journey from her home in Fife.
She said: “Hayes and I haven’t stopped crying. There isn’t even a cot for my baby to sleep in.
“I’ve had to appeal for food and milk to be brought to us because we’re not allowed out of this room. I’m alone, terrified and thousands of miles from my two-year-old son Alfie and my parents with no way of knowing when, or if, I’ll ever get home again to Scotland.”
Leigha was ordered to return to Malta with Hayes – despite health experts’ warnings about the danger of travelling during the coronavirus pandemic – after Court of Session judge Lord Brailsford ruled she had broken Hague Convention rules on child abduction.
In Malta, Leigha and Hayes are not allowed to leave the apartment, and she said: “The temperature during the day is 86F. There’s no air conditioning so it’s like being stuck inside an oven. There’s no respite.
“Hayes hasn’t slept because he can’t understand what is going on. To be honest, I can’t understand it either.
“The people who own the apartment block were shocked when I explained why we were there and they’ve been so kind, giving me food and milk.
“But I have no idea how long I’m going to have to live like this or what to expect next.”
Leigha’s lawyers told the Court of Session in Edinburgh that her life was intolerable in Malta because of the behaviour of Hayes’s father Kyle Borg. We told in December how she had fled Malta claiming she was scared for her safety and the safety of her children. The court was shown a photograph of Mr Borg, 19, smiling as he posed with bags of cannabis. He claims the drugs were prescribed for him.
However, in his ruling ordering Leigha to return to Malta, Lord Brailsford said while the young mum told the court she faced an “intolerable situation”, in his opinion that was “not the situation as far as the child was concerned”.
Fife MSP Alex Rowley said: “I’m beyond anger and disbelief that this could have happened to this young mum in 21st Century Scotland. We need to find a way to change any law that allows this to happen.”
Leigha fled Malta to Scotland in December after her relationship with Mr Borg broke down. Homeless and with no access to financial support, Leigha said she had “no option” but return to Scotland and was stunned when Mr Borg, who is also facing charges of attacking a pizza delivery man, used The Hague Convention to force her return.
Leigha’s plight was raised at Holyrood by Mr Rowley but the First Minister said she was unable to intervene.
Mr Rowley said: “I’m disappointed Nicola Sturgeon did not act to prevent Leigha being sent back to Malta despite medical experts warning it was a reckless unnecessary risk.
“I did not ask her to intervene in the court judgment, just to try and see if there was a way of putting off that journey until medical experts felt there was no risk of Covid to Leigha or Hayes.
“I’m writing to the Maltese government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to seek assurances over what they will be doing to protect Leigha and Hayes and ensure their safety while they are so far from home and struggling.”
Leigha’s family expect to face huge legal bills as she attempts to argue over access in the Malta courts.
Robert Thake, the Maltese lawyer acting for Mr Borg, claimed despite his concerns about travelling during the Covid lockdown, the decision was “arbitrarily set by the judge” Lord Brailsford.
He said: “My client had absolutely no say in the date of return.”
The lawyer added: “The accommodation which was generously provided to Ms Collins by my client’s family was the best available property which they could find at such short notice.”
He said Borg was “eager to fulfil his responsibilities”, and added: “Shortly, the matter will be in the hands of the Maltese Family Court and my client has every intention of abiding by any orders given by the said court.”
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