Heartbroken Aussie father’s Colombian family holiday turns into a nightmare when his wife leaves him, ‘takes the kids’ and refuses to return from overseas – and he hasn’t seen them since
- Robert Clarke travelled to the country with his wife Maria Nelly Yepez Oviedo
- Mr Clarke was forced to travel back home alone and hasn’t seen his kids since
- The Melbourne man hopes to get them back through the Hague Convention
A heartbroken father is locked in desperate battle to have his children returned to Australia after a family holiday to Colombia turned into a nightmare.
Robert Clarke travelled to the country with his South American wife Maria Nelly Yepez Oviedo and their children, four-year-old Benny and Lucia, 16 months, to attend a wedding in February 2019.
But not long after they arrived, Ms Oviedo told her husband she was leaving him, staying in Colombia, and keeping the children.
‘My children are the most important things in my life, so it’s taken everything away,’ a devastated Mr Clarke told A Current Affair.
Robert Clarke travelled to the country with his South American wife Maria Nelly Yepez Oviedo and their children, four-year-old Benny and Lucia, 16 months, to attend a wedding in February 2019
The Melbourne father said he was completely blindsided by Maria, but grew suspicious when they visited a Colombian childcare centre together.
‘Maria said to me ”lets take Benny to kinder so that he can play with some kids”,’ Mr Clarke said.
‘The head of the kinder came down to give Benny a uniform and I said to her ”why do we need to buy a uniform for two weeks?” And she looked at me with this really strange look.’
Mr Clarke alleges Maria confiscated their passports and filed a restraining order against him, leaving him forced to travel home alone.
A Colombian court found Ms Oviedo breached The Hague Convention by unlawfully retaining the children, but it did not order the children be returned to Australia.
Mr Clarke said his son Benny (both pictured) was his best friend and he won’t give up in the fight to get them back
The judge argued too much time had passed since they arrived in Colombia, that they had settled in their new environment and it would be harmful to remove them.
Mr Clarke has launched a petition to Colombian president Iván Duque Márquez to honour the country’s commitment to the Hague Convention so he can be with his kids again.
The petition has more than 9,000 signatures.
Mr Clarke said he won’t give up in the fight, and had a message for his ‘best friend’, Benny.
‘I love you little man, and I’m not going to stop fighting for you and Lucia,’ he said.
Ms Oviedo strongly denied wrongdoing when contacted by A Current Affair, but insisted she wouldn’t return to Australia.
‘No, we are not going back, we are not going back because we have no one there… And I’m very afraid of going back.’
Mr Clarke will return to Colombia later this month to appeal the court’s decision not to return to children to Australia.
Mr Clarke has written a petition to Colombian president Iván Duque Márquez to honour the country’s commitment to the Hague Convention so he can be with his kids again