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  • Secret men's houses
  • By Nick Papps
  • Herald Sun
  • 23/03/2002 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 30 articles in 2002 )
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'Network' to hide children after divorce

A Family Breakdown Industry Failing Families

A SECRET network of men's groups is operating a series of safe houses for disgruntled fathers defying Family Court orders in custody disputes.

The men's groups are known to law enforcement agencies and yesterday the marshal of the Family Court of Australia said he was aware they were hilding children around Australia.

"They do it in an effort to avoid complying with court orders," Marshall Colin Rowley said.

"We have groups in every state and territory."

The group's activities include photographing Family Court lawyers outside the court and in the case of one extremist organisation known as the Blackshirts, following and harassing women involved in Family Court matters.

The vigilante groups have been highlighted by the case of 12-year old Andrew Knight who was returned to his mother Michelle this week after disappearing for 10 weeks.

Andrew disappeared from a suburban pool in Melbourne on January 11, sparking a heartbreaking search and pleas for him to be returned.

"Words can't describe it. Andrew's back, my baby's back." Michelle said yesterday.

"A mother or parent's worst nightmare is over."

Michelle's ordeal ended late this week when Andrew was dropped off by an unknown person at a Melbourne children's hospital and wandered into the hospital's gatehouse.

Police suspect Andrew was moved around Melbourne by a network backed by men's groups who supplied him with food and clothing.

Family Court solicitor Sue Macgregor said men's groups were operating an underground network to hide children.

"I believe they operate safe houses and network between each other," she said.

"They intimidate people and frighten people and they distribute incorrect information - they actively encourage vulnerable people to disobey family court rulings.

"There's about 20 to 30 hard core members."

Men's groups are also believed to have amassed files on judges and Family Court lawyers.

Meanwhile, Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper revealed a child support organisation is to establish a team of bounty hunters to steal back children abducted by non-custodial parents.

The hug-Ur-Kids Organisation said it was frustrated by police efforts to recover children subject to court orders and would illegally recover children itself.

Marshal Rowley condemned the plan, saying it would be seen as an abduction and therefore illegal.

A Federal Police spokeswoman said yesterday that so far this year 195 recovery orders had been issued by the Family Court and 160 had been carried out.

"People should rely on lawful means to recover children," the spokeswoman said.

Secret network hides children (Similar story)

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