Channel NewsAsia

Woman pleads guilty to entering Singapore illegally to look for son

She said she was afraid she would be arrested if she tried to clear immigration, because of previous police reports made by her husband. 

SINGAPORE: A mother pleaded guilty on Thursday (Sep 4) to entering Singapore illegally via a chartered vessel from Malaysia, so that she could take back her two-year-old son, who had been living here with his paternal grandparents.

The 30-year-old woman - whose name and nationality cannot be revealed to protect the identity of the boy - has the custody of her son, as ruled by the English Court in January. However, instead of entering Singapore legally, the woman came over in a vessel from Langkawi along with two other foreigners, and disembarked at Raffles Marina on Aug 19 at about 6am.

The court heard the woman's husband had previously made police reports against her and she was afraid she would be arrested upon her arrival, if she had tried to clear immigration.

Speaking through an interpreter, the woman told the court she misses her son and had been depressed. "Desperate" to see her son, the woman sought the help of non-governmental organisation (NGO) Child Abduction Recovery International in June, to bring her son back to London.

Her travel companions - British citizen Adam Christopher Whittington who runs the NGO, as well as Australian national Todd Allan Wilson, who drove the vessel - also pleaded guilty on Thursday to entering Singapore illegally.

The court heard Wilson, who had slowed the vessel to allow the woman and Whittington to disembark, was arrested in the waters around Raffles Marina. The woman and Whittington then proceeded to look for the boy. 

Whittington also admitted to "arm-locking" the boy's grandfather and hurting the neck of the boy's grandmother in a scuffle at their home. 

Describing this as a "peculiar" immigration case, prosecutors asked the court for some time to prepare their case for sentencing. The trio will learn of their fate on Monday (Sep 8). 

For their immigration offences, they face a maximum penalty of a year's jail and a S$4,000 fine. Whittington also faces up to two years' jail and a S$5,000 fine for hurting the boy's grandmother, and three months' jail and a S$1,500 fine for "arm-locking" the boy's grandfather.