British mother ‘living through hell’ as French courts try to take daughter
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Former bank manager Bernie Geary has accused the foreign courts of ‘corruption’ in the custody battle over her five-year-old daughter
By Hayley Dixon
7:03AM GMT 15 Nov 2013
A British mother says she has lived through five years of hell as the “corrupt” French courts try to take her daughter away on the advice of a psychiatrist she has never met.
Bernie Geary, 55, who says her only crime was falling in love with a foreigner, has been labelled an unfit mother and stripped of her parental authority based the report of the doctor whose assessment of her has been discredited.
She is already facing a fine of more than £10,000 for failing to return her daughter Honor, 5 – a figure which is rising by more than £80 every day she refuses.
But the former bank manager is torn, as the High Court in Ireland, where she has set up home, have refused to send her daughter abroad.
“The decision was based on a false certificate from a Dr Richon – a man who has been condemned in 2010 for giving the false statements and was suspended for three months,” said Miss Geary, who describes her ex-lovers family as “well connected”.
“I have never even met him. It is disgusting, it is corruption. I have lived through hell.
“My doctor in Ireland has given nothing but excellent reports about me, Honor is thriving at school – I have done absolutely nothing wrong other than marry this man.
“Someone has got to expose what is going on in these foreign courts, it is disgraceful.”
She compared her case to that of Cambridge graduate Beth Schlesinger, 29, whose twin sons taken away when a psychologist told an Austrian court she was mentally ill.
“If this has happened to her and it has happened to me how many more people has it happened to? It is outrageous,” Miss Geary said.
Miss Geary, who grew up in London and has three children by her first husband, a CPS barrister, moved to France in 2002 and fell in love with successful lawyer Carl Gendreau.
After a course of IVF she became pregnant and the pair married before Honor was born in July 2008.
But the relationship soured when she was just a few months old, beginning the bitter custody battle which has seen 11 separate judgements on where Honor should live in the last three-and-a-half years.
Miss Geary moved to Ireland, but in 2011 the courts “u-turned” and she was forced to return to France, she says.
In April 2012, as part of their divorce, judges ruled Honor should live with her mother and allowed her to leave France, a country she has come to hate and once again she returned to her chosen home.
A year later, in March 2013, the ruling was overturned, and the residence was set at her father’s home in Poitiers.
Miss Geary has refused to return, and as a result Mr Gendreau has filed “umpteenth complaints for the offence of non presentation of the child”, according to the latest court judgement which she is appealing against.
Mr Grenedau, 48, told judges his ex wife “is a manipulator and fooled an Irish police sergeant so that this sergeant testified that the father had given his agreement that Honor stay in Ireland.”
In his July decision Bruno Bourdeau, judge of the family division at the Tribunal de grande instance de Niort, also gave sole parental authority to Mr Gendreau and ordered that as soon as she is returned Honor be banned from leaving France without his permission.
The judge said Miss Geary was “not worthy of being called a mother” and therefore Honor she should be returned to her father – who “perhaps is not perfect (but who is?)”.
The ruling notes the “expert assessment” of Dr Richon in 2009 which the judge claims “speaks volumes” about Miss Geary’s mental state.
In October, Ireland’s High Court threw out Mr Gendreau’s application for his daughter to be returned to France under the terms of the Hague convention.
He has lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court, which is still pending.