Saturday 26 May 2018

Orphaned Corbett children's 39-hour journey home

Jason Corbett to be laid to rest by his family after a bruising US custody battle for Jack and Sarah

Maeve Sheehan and David Raleigh

The orphaned children of Jason Corbett spent their first day back in Ireland yesterday, recovering from a gruelling 39-hour journey home from the US on trains, planes and automobiles.

The dash for home began on Thursday at 4pm, hours after a court in North Carolina threw out their stepmother's bid for custody, allowing their uncle and aunt, Tracey and David Lynch, to bring them home for their father's funeral.

Jack (10) and Sarah (8), who lost their mother in 2006, were orphaned on August 2 when their father, Jason, died of head injuries at the family home in North Carolina. Police have named his second wife, Molly Martens, and her father, Thomas, a former FBI agent, who were in the house when he died, as "persons of interest".

Jack and Sarah remained in the US at the centre of a custody battle between Tracey and David Lynch, whom Jason appointed as guardians, and their American stepmother, whom he refused to allow adopt the children.

With the help of airport and airline staff in Shannon, the Lynches flew from Greenberg in North Carolina to Washington, intending to catch a scheduled flight to Dublin. Bad weather delayed their journey. They then caught a train from Washington to Newark on Friday, where they caught a United Airlines flight that touched down in Shannon at 7.02am.

After half an hour, the doors parted and Tracey and David Lynch walked into the arrivals hall, David carrying Sarah in his arms, and Tracey clutching her older brother, Jack. The children looked tired and solemn from the exhausting journey. They were ushered through the airport surrounded by the large contingent of family members who had gathered at the airport to meet them. They included Jason's parents, Rita and John.

"We are just delighted to be back home with the kids, to bring them back to Ireland," Tracey Lynch told the waiting media. "I'd just like some peace so we can bury Jason."

Although the children are now in Ireland, the custody battle continues. Molly Martens Corbett is appealing the judge's decision to dismiss her custody bid. Yesterday, the case took another unpleasant turn with the Corbett family forced to deny allegations of alleged domestic abuse posted on Facebook by a cousin of Molly Martens.

John Corbett said yesterday that his younger brother, Jason, was a gentle giant and attacked attempts to "degrade" his character.

"I have to be very calm about this but I obviously feel a lot of anger and frustration because they are trying to degrade my brother's character, even though (Molly and Thomas Martens) are possibly main suspects in his murder," he said yesterday. "My brother was killed brutally in very unusual circumstances and hopefully that will be proven."

Jason's death and the subsequent legal battle for custody of the children left his family with a bill running to several thousands in legal fees and travel costs.

Catherine Fitzpatrick, the sister of Jason's first wife, Mags, said the fundraising will continue because the legal fees have run to "20s and 20s of thousands". Details of how to donate can be found online at the Bring Jack and Sarah home Facebook page.

Sunday Independent

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