Corbett children to return to Ireland as judge dismisses case

Molly Martens was seeking custody of her Irish step children Jack (10) and Sarah (8)

The Limerick-born children had been in the custody of their stepmother for two weeks after their father Jason Corbett was found dead in his home in North Carolina

The Limerick-born children had been in the custody of their stepmother for two weeks after their father Jason Corbett was found dead in his home in North Carolina

 

The children of an Irishman killed in North Carolina are to return to Ireland with their aunt after a court dismissed their step-mother’s custody application.

Jason Corbett was found dead on August 2nd at his house in an golf community in Davidson County.

His two children from his first marriage – Jack (10) and Sarah (8) – had been in the care of their stepmother Molly Martens until earlier this week when a court awarded guardianship to Mr Corbett’s sister while it considered a custody application from Ms Martins.

Ms Martens and her father Thomas – who is a retired FBI agent – have been described by police as “persons of interest” in the investigation into Mr Corbett’s death, but no arrests have yet been made.

Relatives in Limerick launched a huge campaign to bring the children home, arguing that Mr Corbett always wanted them to grow up in Ireland and had not allowed Ms Martens to adopt them.

They had to wait until yesterday for an already scheduled custody hearing when the North Davidson Superior Court threw out the application by Ms Martens.

It means the two children are now free to fly to Ireland with their aunt, Tracey Lynch, ending the legal saga.

Mr Corbett, (39), moved to the US four years ago with his young children after their mother, Mags Corbett, died from an asthma attack in 2006.

He later married the children’s au pair, Ms Martens.

Ms Lynch, Jason’s older sister, flew to the United States from Ireland when he died, only to be told she faced a custody challenge and legal battle to bring the two children home.

Earlier in the week, Brian Shipworth, clerk of the Superior Court for Davidson County, North Carolina, ruled on guardianship during a closed hearing.

“The parents of Sarah and Jack I am almost certain would want their children to be raised in the land of their origin where the culture, religion, customs and extended family on both sides are prepared to nurture them in a manner that would be in the children’s best interest.”

An uncle of the children spoke last night of his family’s relief.

Thomas Fitzpatrick, who is a brother of the children’s late mother, said they were very proud at how Jason’s sisters and friends had handled the difficult legal situation since they arrived in North Carolina over two weeks ago.

“We are just really relived and happy and so proud of Tracey and David, Paul and Marilyn. They were just amazing. We are so happy and see can’t wait to see the two kids,” he said.

Mr Fitzpatrick said both the Corbett and Fitzpatrick families waited together in the home of Jason’s parents Rita (74) and John (80) Corbett by the phone for news from North Carolina.

“Tracey just rang her mam here, we are here with the family now, everyone here is just relived and on the phone telling everyone.”

The children’s Uncle said waiting for the outcome of the hearing was “nerve wracking, but we were very positive once we knew Tracey had them.”

He said his parents are massively relieved and “so happy and excited” about finally getting to see their grandchildren.

When asked when the children are likely to back in Ireland he said: “We are not sure yet it could be Saturday or Sunday yet, we just know they are coming home and that’s all that matters now.”

Jason Corbett’s remains were repatriated to Ireland last week however his family insisted they would not bury him until his children were home.