A young Maltese father is in deadlock after his child was abducted by his mother who fled to Scotland.
A year on from the abduction, 21-year-old Kyle Borg is battling for custody of his two-year-old son, Hayes, in court, while facing claims of violence from his ex-partner, a garnishee order and maintenance, all while living paycheque to paycheque.
Leigha Collins, the mother of his two-year-old son Hayes, secretly fled to her parents home in Kinghorn, Scotland with his older brother Alfie last December. She was ordered to return to Malta by local courts in April to prevent child abduction.
Collins, who didn’t appeal the order to return, spoke to The Sunday Post, telling the Scottish newspaper that she was “terrified” of returning, referring to Borg’s “erratic behaviour” and “previous conviction of grievous bodily harm” as reasons for fleeing their Birkirkara flat.
She claimed Borg was violent, an avid drug user and trafficker and even accused him of ripping up his son’s passport in her affidavit.
But Borg and his lawyer Robert Thake divulged a different version of events.
Borg says their relationship began in 2018, which started well but was complicated because she was pregnant with another man’s child, and refused to inform the father.
Nonetheless, Borg raised Alfie as his own, his parents become his godparents. A year later, they had their son Hayes together.
The relationship deteriorated shortly after, Borg told the courts, with Collins allegedly neglecting the children.
Borg told the courts that the couple regularly argued about raising the children. Collins, Borg says, missed vaccination appointments for the two boys, even though they were free.
Collins was also unemployed, meaning they had to rely heavily on Borg’s parents for rent and money. Eventually, she said that she would apply to sit for her o-levels, in order to stand a better chance of being employed.
However, she left the country with the two boys before doing so.
A window cleaner by profession, Borg admitted to verbal arguments with Collins but said the only physical episode was perpetrated from her, with a keyboard to his face.
Borg, who earns around €1,000 a month, pays maintenance costs and had paid Collins’ lodging for six months (which he is not legally obliged to do).
He has since been served with a €24,000 garnishee order due to delayed payments. However, Borg insists he only fell behind because the date he receives his paycheck does not coincide with the date of the decree.
“It has been a tremendously difficult time for Kyle.”
“Apart from losing his child and not seeing him for eight months, he has been attacked and denigrated by the Scottish media unjustly and in a particularly aggressive fashion,” his lawyer Robert Thake said.
On the claim of his conviction, Borg was sentenced for an incident with a pizza delivery man, which he is currently serving three years of probation for.
Thake warned that should this previous conviction be used against him, it could set a dangerous precedent.
“The notion that someone who is found guilty of a crime against a third party should be punished twice, including by having his child summarily taken away from him, is both wrong and dangerous.”
“Mr Borg is as dedicated a father to his son as he was to Ms. Collin’s other son, Alfie, who he raised from birth, and the fact that he made a mistake (which did not involve either Ms. Collins or their son) does not change that,” he said.
Thake also laments the fact that Collins chose to fight her legal battle in the court of public opinion rather than the court of law.
“She initially appealed the Scottish Court ruling ordering her return but subsequently abandoned it and took to the papers instead,” Thake noted.
“It is also regrettable that Ms Collins has persisted in her mission to cause further pain and suffering to Mr Borg and his family following her return to Malta, notwithstanding the fact that they are currently paying for her lodging without any legal obligation to do so.”
The court case for custody of Hayes begins in January. At this point, Borg is looking to get on with his life, regain the time lost with his son when he was taken away from him.
Parental alienation is an issue gaining traction in Malta.
Anthony Cauchi from NGO Happy Parenting Malta For Happier Children regularly raises concerns over fathers’ who have severely limited access to their children. The group has even launched a Christmas campaign to raise awareness about it.
Meanwhile, cases of child abduction have also raised concerns. Just last month, a foster child under a care order was illegally taken by their birth mother out of Malta with falsified passports.
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