My three-year-old granddaughter Iyla was murdered when her mother was told by phone that the Family Court had given custody to my son.
See video of Jo telling the whole story at the bottom of the page.
My three-year-old granddaughter Iyla was murdered by her mother. This happened the day after a Family Law Court Judge told her over the phone that she’d lost custody to my son.
My son Nathan had been involved with Tamara for only about six months when she told him she was pregnant – she’d pretended she was on the pill. He’d already realised she was pretty crazy – she’d been abusive to our entire family – but they decided to stay together because of the pregnancy.
Tamara started being verbally abusive not long after Iyla was born. As time went on things got worse and she started throwing things at Nathan and breaking stuff around the house.
Nathan was a teacher but took parental leave when Iyla was 6 months old because Tamara wanted to go back to her work. Her job involved helping find employment for people with disabilities.
Iyla was nine months old when Nathan had to take refuge with Iyla at a neighbour’s house because Tamara was out of control.
Tamara then moved out leaving Iyla with Nathan. He let her come back to visit every night after work to be with Iyla. They ended up in Family Court because Tamara falsely claimed he was preventing her from seeing Iyla and the court awarded her residency. Despite this, she went back to his house every night for the next few months so he could help look after Iyla. So, they decided to share custody and with the help of a lawyer drew up a parenting plan. But when they went before the same Family Law Court judge they had seen before, she would not approve it, claiming it gave Nathan too much time with Iyla.
The blatant prejudice by this female judge was just one example of the unfair treatment Nathan encountered throughout his experience with the Family Court system. He was the primary parent and had given up his work to provide proper care for his daughter, yet he was treated with contempt by many in the court who chose to believe the word of an unstable mother with a proven history of violence.
After that there was a period when they ended up moving back in together, with Nathan working three days a week so Iyla didn’t have to be in day-care every day. But Tamara gradually became more verbally abusive and violent. Police were called but initially Nathan didn’t want her to be charged. Eventually police took their own action against her when she was clearly out of control when they came to the house. She was charged with domestic violence, the first of many such charges, and Nathan and Iyla placed on a Protection Order.
Tamara was also suspended from her job after getting drunk and abusing a client. Not long after this, she was due to face criminal court for domestic violence charges, but she just left town with Iyla and disappeared. She travelled from their home on the Gold Coast to Orange in NSW where she’d got herself a job and pretended to be a domestic violence victim, lecturing to rooms full of victims about her ordeal. She sent a text to Nathan saying she was on a holiday! He believed her at first but then started to worry, so he contacted the police as he had no idea where she had taken Lyla. Even though Iyla was on the Protection Order they said they couldn’t do anything, and he had to go through the Family Court.
Can you imagine if it was a father who’d taken off with a child subject to a Protection Order? There would have been an immediate outcry, media all over the story and Iyla returned immediately.
It was over 2 months later that Nathan finally got to see Iyla again at the Family Court where it was decided she should remain with her mother but he was to have her every school holiday at the mother’s expense. Naturally, this didn’t work out because Tamara breached orders about Iyla allowing time with him and caused endless strife, with more false allegations etc. It was soul destroying.
The Family Court processes were continuing and at one point a Family Reporter carefully interviewed both parents and observed them both separately with Iyla. When it was time for Iyla to leave Nathan she dissolved into tears, screaming “No, No, I want Daddy!” The Family Reporter recommended Iyla be removed at once from the mother who should have supervised contact only.
But a second Judge refused to rule on what the Family Reporter had advised and said it would have to go to trial six months later.
Due to delays caused by Tamara’s false allegations it ended up taking 18 months for it to finally happen with the case taking five days in court and costing us over $70,000. An Independent Children’s Lawyer recommended Iyla be placed with the father. This third judge took another three months to make the decision that Iyla be returned to Nathan and made the fatal mistake of informing Tamara over the phone that she had four days to return the child to her father. The next day Iyla was murdered by her mother. Tamara’s homicide case was due to be heard on the 17th August but on the 9th of August she was found hung in her cell at Silverwater prison.
The proceedings took a huge toll on us emotionally and financially. Nathan is so shattered he has been unable to return to his teaching job and probably will never be able. He suffers from PTSD and is an emotional mess. Iyla’s 7 year old brother (from another relationship) had a special bond with her and is missing his little sister and still has nightmares. Iyla’s murder has naturally shattered our entire family.
But this tragedy came after the horrendous experience of watching a family law system where a dangerous mother was given endless chances, despite the fact that there was a loving, devoted father who’d always been there for his child.
Watch this video of Jo telling the whole story.
Read more stories from mothers of sons who have faced injustice here