|‘I did not kidnap my baby’ |
By Cecily Asson Saturday, January 4 2014
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In safe arms: Andrea Leitch-Mohammed holds her daughter Kassie Providence at a house in south Trinidad where they are staying....
A Guyanese woman yesterday denied she had kidnapped her two-year-old daughter, saying she was protecting the child by moving her from where she was staying with relatives.
“My daughter Kassie Providence was never kidnapped. It was in the interest of her well-being that I deliberately removed her from the house where he (close male relative) had left her in the care of her grandmother and other relatives. Right now she is safe and sound with me,” Guyanese national Andrea Leitch-Mohammed, 25, told Newsday from where she and Kassie are living in south Trinidad.
Yesterday when Newsday visited the family, little Kassie was sleeping but she later woke up.
“Kassie is in good health. She spent Christmas with me and her baby brother Nehemiah,” Leitch- Mohammed told Newsday.
“It felt good as it was almost a year I did not hold my child. I wanted to give her love and I was being prevented from even seeing her whenever I asked for a visit. I was always denied the opportunity. That day was my breaking point and I took her.”
On December 21, a close male relative filed a missing persons report to police saying a woman fitting Leitch-Mohammed’s description had gone to the home of Kassie’s grandmother in Enterprise, Chaguanas and taken the little girl before escaping in a waiting car.
Leitch-Mohammed, now happily married, said she has no regrets over her actions.
“My daughter didn’t even know me when I took her,” she cried. “You know what that did to me? My daughter is my responsibility, she is her father’s responsibility. I can financially take care of her now and I will allow the court to decide how we will share custody of Kassie.”
Leitch-Mohammed told Newsday she first came to Trinidad in 2009 to work, went back to Guyana but returned one year later and became involved in a relationship.
The relationship, she said, turned violent and she was kept a prisoner in the house in Tableland claiming she was physically assaulted. With no relatives in Trinidad and no one tor turn to the situation was bad, she revealed.
“I was a victim of domestic abuse. One day he beat me and fractured my jaw. I was bleeding through my ear,” she said as she showed a medical certificate she received from the Princes Town District Hospital.
“I was plannassed, my clothes burnt and I was chased out the house and had to leave Kassie behind as I had nowhere to carry her.”
She said a relative of her abuser knew what she was going through and would often talk to him asking him to change. “She is the one person who knew all that I was going through with him. The situation only became worse.”
She said several reports about his violent behaviour were lodged at the Princes Town, Rio Claro and Tableland Police Stations. “The police knew me. I went to court and took out a summons for a restraining order against him.
I also filed for custody and child maintenance but he was never served the summons.”
Leitch-Mohammed said when she got the courage to walk out of the relationship she lived for a few weeks in a hotel before she got a job and got back on her feet.
“That’s when I went for Kassie and problems began. He refused to give her to me. It was as if he was spiting me for leaving him.”
She said she then met someone and got married.
She said on the day she removed Kassie from the house in Enterprise she had received a call from a relative telling her to come for the little girl.
“I was happy until I got there and things changed. They told me I could go and buy whatever I want and bring it back for her. I couldn’t do that, it was Christmastime and I was determined not to beg and cry anymore. I took her just as she was in her nightie and barefoot and left.”
She said she has always kept in touch with the police whenever she made a move.
“Today (yesterday) I visited the district police station telling them that the child was safe with me. They told me nothing.” She warns mothers experiencing similar problems not to give up but fight for their children and let the court decide. She is expected to go to court for a custody hearing soon.