Corbett children placed with aunt and uncle after custody battle

Children of Jason Corbett, who died in his US home, had been in care of their stepmother

 Limerick man Jason Corbett (39), who was killed in North Carolina recently

Limerick man Jason Corbett (39), who was killed in North Carolina recently

 

A relative of two young Irish children at the centre of a custody battle in the US has spoken of his relief that his niece and nephew are back in the care of their aunt.

A court hearing to formally allow Jack (10) and Sarah Corbett (8) be returned to Ireland still has to take place in North Carolina on Thursday.

However a development earlier this week saw the children placed in the guardianship of their aunt Tracey Lynch who arrived in the US earlier this month following the death of her brother Jason Corbett (39).

Mr Corbett, who moved to North Carolina four years ago with his children from his first marriage, was found dead at his home in Panther’s Creek Court, Walburg on August 3rd following what police have described as a domestic incident.

His American wife Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens, a retired FBI agent, have been questioned about his death but no arrests have been made.

Jack and Sarah Corbett had been in the care of their step mother since their father was found dead and had not been allowed to see Ms Lynch and her husband David who were appointed legal guardians following the death of their mother Mags Corbett nine years ago from an asthma attack.

Thomas Fitzpatrick, who is a brother of Mags Corbett, spoke of his family’s relief this morning.

“All I can say is we are relieved to know they are with Tracey. We are very positive about tomorrow and hopeful to have the kids back by the weekend,” he said.

Ms Lynch attended a seven and a half hour hearing in North Carolina last Friday to determine whether the children would remain in the custody of their American step mother or be allowed to return to Ireland with their aunt as their father’s will states.

The final decision is due on Thursday.

News of the much welcomed development broke after 600 people gathered outside City Hall in Merchants Quay, Limerick, for a candlelight vigil organised by a social media campaign ‘Bring Jack and Sarh Home’.

“The family is still all on tenterhooks and Tracey still has to go to court on Thursday for the decision to be formally finalised in the court but there was an unexpected development on Tuesday evening and they were all called back into the court and the children were allowed into Tracey’s custody,” confirmed a family friend.

“She sounded elated and she had the kids with her, but it’s all so sad and her main concern now is for the welfare of those children and they have to stay in America until the court finalises everything on Thursday, but hopefully they can finally come home then.”

Jason Corbett’s remains were repatriated last week with the help of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust but the family said his funeral would not take place until his children were home.

Speaking at Tuesday night’s candlelight gathering, Michael Corbett - who travelled to North Carolina - described the last fortnight as a “nightmare” for his family especially Jason’s elderly parents John (80) and Rita (74) Corbett.