The distraught mother with her daughters. The image has been distorted for legal reasons.
The distraught mother with her daughters. The image has been distorted for legal reasons.

Sisters to stay on Coast for now

UPDATE: THE four Sunshine Coast girls facing deportation to Italy will remain in the country at least until Friday.

A High Court application, which was heard at 2.30pm, has postponed the case for another three days.

A barrister, acting on behalf an aunt, tried to use case law to argue the girls had been denied natural justice as they hadn't been heard.

Reference was made to a 1996 case were children were ordered back to America.

A barrister acting for the Department of Communities argued it didn't apply as there had been changes to statutory requirements in the intervening 16 years.

The Department put forward an application to have the aunt's application dismissed.

Both parties agreed the children would not leave the country until the High Court has made its determination.

The case is scheduled to reconvene at 10.15am on Friday.

It was understood the children would remain in the care of a "family member" until the case resumed.

Neither the children, the mother or the great-grandmother were seen during the court proceedings.

 

Family's plea for girls goes to two courts

THE solicitor acting for the mother of the four Sunshine Coast girls facing deportation to Italy has made an appeal before the Family Court.

An application by Sydney lawyer Greta King was heard at 2pm.  Ms King, who was arguing the case via telephone, tried to get the judge to have the girls return order stayed.

She told the judge they feared the children were already at the airport waiting to board a plane for Italy.

A Department of Communities person, present in the court proceedings, assured the judge this wasn't the case.

The judge advised the court he would not be able to consider staying the return order before the High Court case was heard and he declined to hear the application.

The High Court case is expected to be heard at 2.30pm.

The judge said it was highly likely and appropriate the kids would remain in the country until the High Court has made its decision.

 

Mother takes appeal to High Court

THE mother of the four runaway Sunshine Coast girls has made an urgent application for her case to be heard by the High Court at 2.30pm.

The application will try and prevent the girls father from taking them back to his home in Florence, Italy on the next available flight.

The father's lawyer, Giovanni Porta, told the Daily there was nothing legally preventing the father from taking the girls back to their place of birth.

He said the father would be at the court case, to be held in the Brisbane federal court, as a "matter of courtesy".

He said the father "never felt the need to speak to the media" as his intention had simply been to "abide by the rulings of the court".

He couldn't speculate how soon the father planned to take the girls home.

The girls have been the care of the Department of Communities since they were discovered by Maroochydore police hiding in a Buderim home last night.

A Department of Communities spokeswoman said the children are "safe and are not distressed".

Mr Porta couldn't speculate on whether the father hoped charges would be brought against the great grandmother for hiding the children for a week and defying a court order.

He said he had been dealing with the father's case "since the beginning".

An aunt has said the mother didn't want the children to return to Italy as the matter would then be heard by an Italian court, which was unlikely to be sympathetic to her case as she was a woman.

Mr Porta said this wouldn't be the case.

"This matter has already been decided (by an Italian court)," he said.

"They have shared custody," he said.

Another one of the aunt's told the Daily they were enroute to Brisbane to try and deal with the legal issue.

They said the mother was grappling to come to terms with the process.

"It's a horrible situation," she said.

 

Girls found by police on Coast property

THE four Sunshine Coast sisters caught up in an international custody dispute have been found by police at Buderim after an overnight raid.

Using their Facebook page, Kids without Voices, which already has a following of more than 6000 - the family told how the Maroochydore Police "came and knocked on the door where they were staying".

"They told the great grandmother someone had rung and told them where the children were," it reads.

"The children were taken by the federal police to a "safe house" at an unknown location.

The great grandmother was told she would go with the children but was then separated from them and dropped at her home."

Their discovery comes after they've spent eight days on the run with their great-grandmother to avoid complying with a Family Court order which instructed they should return to Italy with their father where an Italian court could decide their future.

The great-grandmother, grandmother and the aunt they first left school with are due to appear in court tomorrow.

An Australian Federal Police spokeswoman said the four missing girls were "safe and in the care of federal police and state authorities".

Brisbanetimes.com.au earlier reported that the great grandmother, who cannot be named, said police had raided a property on the Sunshine Coast last night and had taken the children.

"Someone has put us in, told the police," she told AAP.

"I am frozen. I am in shock. They've got the girls now and I don't know where they are.

"I'm shaking."

The great grandmother said she was waiting on a call from lawyers about the next step, after only being allowed to return to a property on the Sunshine Coast early this morning.

Queensland Police confirmed the girls had been found, in a statement released about 9am.

"The girls are safe and in the care of federal police and state authorities," it said.

"As this is a Family Court matter no further information can be provided at this time."

ABC reported the girls had been found at a Buderim property.

The great aunt of the girls told ABC Coast FM that she had spoken to her sister.

"She has spoken to police directly and she is confident they are being looked after very well,'' the great aunt said.

"I am hoping that would be with counsellors...

"I believe that they will be staying with police until negotiations go on with the parents.''

The Sunshine Coast girls, aged between nine and 14, have been in hiding as their mother fought to keep them from being deported to Italy where they were born.

The mother had been ordered to surrender the children to their father so they could return to Italy.

She claims they do not want to and is trying to fight the order in the Family Law courts.

 

Woman fighting for her girls

NEW lawyers are on the case and a fighting fund has been created to help a Sunshine Coast woman keep her four daughters in Australia.

The four girls, aged between nine and 14, have been in hiding with their great-grandmother for more than a week since they were ordered to return to Italy with their father.

Their aunt said it was decided to go with new lawyers as "there was so much legal opinion, learned people felt she could be represented better".

"The new lawyers are confident they could have a case," the aunt said.

"We also have representatives for the children."

A trust fund was being established through a legal firm to help the family fund the legal fight.

"The mother Laura, the two aunts, the grandmother and the great grandmother on the run and even the writer of this post, need the best people behind them to win," a Facebook post reads.

Meanwhile, Maroochydore Parish Priest Father Joe Duffy has invited the father to visit the Sunshine Coast.

"He can visit the children's schools, meet the teachers, meet the friends. Up here he will hear, first hand, how brilliantly his kids are doing, how they're fitting in so well," he said.

The mother's legal bid to challenge the court order failed last Wednesday and the great-grandmother, grandmother and an aunt were ordered to appear before a court on Friday.

The great-grandmother defied the court order.

The case will reconvene tomorrow.

The aunt, the grandmother and the great-grandmother have been called to give evidence.



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