My Romanian ex has been 'on the run' with our son, 3, for 2 years10/08/2023
My Romanian ex-girlfriend is ‘on the run’ with my son: ‘Heartbroken’ dad has not seen three-year-old son for two years after he was spirited away to his mother’s homeland… and vanished
- EXCLUSIVE: Craig Carvell, 33, hasn’t seen son, 3, after his mother abducted him
- Raluca Iaghilescu flew Matthew, then 1, to her native Romania nearly 2 years ago
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A ‘heartbroken’ father has pleaded for the safe return of his three-year-old son after the toddler’s mother abducted him to her native Romania – and has now been ‘on the run’ with him for nearly two years.
Loving father Craig Carvell, now 33, did not know a Saturday afternoon trip to the petting zoo with ‘cheeky’ Matthew, turning two in a month’s time, would be the last time he saw his son.
When the property manager from Liverpool went to pick his son up from his ex-girlfriend, Romanian-born Raluca Madalina Iaghilescu, on Tuesday, March 1 last year – they were nowhere to be found and he could not reach her by phone, text or email.
Fearing the ‘inevitable had happened’, as his ex-partner had made clear her intention to abscond with their child to Romania, Mr Carvell contacted Merseyside Police.
The force checked in with Ms Iaghilescu, and officers then told the worried father that she had taken a hastily planned holiday to Wales with their son and would return in a few days.
‘Heartbroken’ father Craig Carvell has pleaded for the safe return of his three-year-old son Matthew (pictured together Christmas 2021) after the toddler’s mother abducted him to her native Romania – and has now been ‘on the run’ with him for nearly two years
Loving father Craig Carvell, now 33, did not know a Saturday afternoon trip to the petting zoo with ‘cheeky’ Matthew, turning two in a month’s time, would be the last time he saw his son
When the property manager from Liverpool went to pick his son Matthew (right) up from his ex-girlfriend, Romanian-born Raluca Madalina Iaghilescu (left), on Tuesday, March 1 last year – they were nowhere to be found and he could not reach her by phone, text or email
But just four days later, police rang Mr Carvell to confirm that his ‘worst fears had now become reality’. His ex had left the country with little Matthew and flown to Romania.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Mr Carvell said: ‘I didn’t know that I’d never see him again and that’s heart wrenching.
‘Someone told me it’s like they died but you’re in limbo. He’s still out there, but can’t be seen and I don’t know what’s happening.
‘I constantly ask myself: “Is he okay? Is he well?” And of course I fear for his safety.’
Speaking about the moments after realising his son had been abducted, Mr Carvell said: ‘All I can describe it, is as if you’ve been punched in the stomach as hard as you can be.
‘It’s gut-wrenching fear, anger and frustration all mixed together. It’s the reality of seeing your worst nightmare come true.
‘This gut punch, it remains with me constantly.’
‘I dont think I’ll ever forgive her for what she’s done,’ he said about his ex Ms Iaghilescu.
Urging his former partner to bring their son home to the UK, Mr Carvell said: ‘It’s not fair on Matthew, the longer this continues, the more damage occurs to him and he should come before anything between us – and he needs both parents in his life.’
But he said that, despite what she has done, he still wants his son to have a bond with his mother as he ‘doesn’t deserve it – he needs his mum’.
‘The suffering he must be going through on the run in a country – he needs to be home. It can’t be good for her mental health or his, it’s been going on for too long.
‘You’ve lost, the game’s over – its time to put a pin in it and bring him home.’
Speaking fondly of his missing son, Mr Carvell said: ‘He was just a really friendly happy kid. He always had a big smile on his face, he loved food and he always wanted to go to the park – he loved the beach and I loved taking him.’
‘I constantly ask myself: “Is he okay? Is he well?” And of course I fear for his safety’
‘He was just a really friendly happy kid. He always had a big smile on his face, he loved food and he always wanted to go to the park – he loved the beach and I loved taking him’
‘Matthew had a cheeky smile – the only way I can describe it is like he’s up to something. He was absolutely brill. He still is’
He added: ‘Matthew had a cheeky smile – the only way I can describe it is like he’s up to something. He was absolutely brill. He still is.’
The boy’s father said that he feels ‘a lot of sadness as I have missed out on so much time in his life, and you can’t rewind the clock.’
‘I have missed out on so much time that i’ll never get back.’
He said that when feels emotional when he sees a parents walking down with their small child. ‘I think, “Matthew could be around that size now”.’
He soon learned that getting his son home would be no easy task. He received legal advice from his family solicitor he had employed due to an ongoing custody battle with his ex, before seeking a ruling under The Hague conventions on international child abductions.
The International Criminal Court ruled on September 26 last year that Matthew should be returned to the UK within 14 days, but the boy is still with his mother in an unknown part of the eastern European nation – and the Romanian authorities have taken little action to enforce this ruling.
Mr Carvell has already missed much of his young son’s early life since he was abducted – and he is worried that his son may not recognise him if he does come home.
He also lamented missing key moments including his son’s second and third birthdays, Christmas and Father’s Day.
Matthew’s second birthday on March 28 last year was less than a month after he was taken to Romania – but his father did not get to celebrate the happy occasion. ‘I didn’t celebrate. I couldn’t,’ Mr Carvell said.
‘All my friends and I were fighting to get him home – everything was focused on that. But I was well aware that it was Matthew’s birthday.’
Mr Carvell was ‘well aware’ when Matthew’s third birthday rolled around a year later. But he said it put a ‘reignited fire in my belly’ to bring him home.
‘I could rest on my laurels,’ he said. ‘But I haven’t let myself do that, I need to keep going on for him.’
Talking about the difficulties of Matthew’s key moments, he added: ‘When Father’s Day comes around and everyone celebrates and spends time with their kids that’s hard.
‘It’s quite a prominent day, there are adverts everywhere and I have a dad to be with. I would also like to celebrate with my own child but cruelly that’s been taken away from me unilaterally by someone who did not have the right to do that.’
Normally an intensely private person, Mr Carvell has revealed how much it hurts him to ‘pretend everything is okay’ when those unaware of his situation glance a photo at his phone wallpaper – which is of his young son in happier times.
‘Not everyone knows my story, I’m quite private,’ he said. ‘People who don’t know me will ask about the photos of Matthew on my phone screensaver.
‘I play along: “He’s three, he is in nursery,” I say.
‘I have to play along with this false reality as it is too hard to talk with random people about what’s happened. I have to pretend that everything is okay when it’s not.’
Mr Carvell started dating his partner Gemma Peacock, 35, just four months before his son and he says that she has been his ‘rock’ during these difficult times.
‘If she said “I didn’t want to be any part of this”, I would get it. But she’s stood with me every single step of the way.’
‘I dont think I’ll ever forgive her for what she’s done’: Matthew’s mother Raluca Iaghilescu
Mr Carvell has already missed much of Matthew’s early life since he was abducted – and he is worried that his son may not recognise him if he does come home
Miss Peacock only met Matthew a few times as his father said he is not keen to quickly introduce him to people he is dating and wanted to ‘make sure she’s the right person’.
Mr Carvell has urged the government to do more to bring Matthew home, and has criticised them for not putting enough pressure on the Romanian authorities.
He said the Foreign Office have not done enough to enforce the order made by The Hague, and that while he understands Britain cannot interfere with Romania’s court system, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly could apply political pressure.
The then-Europe Minister sent the worried father a letter via his MP Maria Eagle in July last year saying: ‘The FCO is not a safeguarding authority or a law enforcement agency and as such are unable to locate a child or guarantee their return, even when a court order has been issued.’
He advised him to contact child abduction charity ‘Reunite’ – who have now urged the Romanian authorities ‘to enforce this order [from The Hague] so this little boy can come home’.
Since the order by the The Hague, Mr Carvell has received a letter from current Europe Minister Leo Docherty in June this year, saying: ‘His Majesty’s Government takes every opportunity to engage the Romanian authorities on the issue of international parental child abduction at both senior official and Ministerial level.’ Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk also sent a similar letter in July.
But Matthew remains in Romania with his mother and his father remains incredibly concerned for his safety and wellbeing.
Addressing the Mr Cleverly the worried father said: ‘I have crossed out every other angle and it now needs government to government intervention.
‘The foreign office was set up to assist British citizens overseas, take the time to read what I am asking for.’
Mr Carvell has urged Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to act to ensure his son comes home
A spokesperson for child abduction charity Reunite told MailOnline: ‘At reunite we receive reports of over 500 new abduction cases every year. Such cases are incredibly difficult for everyone involved, with both parents and children living in limbo while waiting to find out what their future holds.
‘This is further exacerbated in cases like Craig’s where he has been through all the necessary legal processes and has an order saying his son should come home, but the lack of ability of the Romanian system to enforce its own orders extends the distress further.
‘Effective enforcement measures are crucial to the success of any court system, and we would urge the Romanian authorities to enforce this order so this little boy can come home.’
An FCDO spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of this ongoing issue and recognise that cases of International parental child abduction are highly distressing for all those affected.
‘The UK takes international parental child abduction extremely seriously and our officials and ministers engage with overseas authorities where appropriate.’
The Romanian Embassy in London has been contacted for comment.
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