Australian actress Eliza Szonert and son in Malaysia Photo: Supplied Eliza Szonert holds her son after taking him from a suburban Kuala Lumpur restaurant. Photo: Supplied
Actress appeals to Julie BishopDramatic scenes in Kuala Lumpur restaurant
An Australian actress stranded in Malaysia after snatching her son was set to return home with the boy within 48 hours, according to the child recovery company involved in the operation.
Former Neighbours and Underbelly actress Eliza Szonert and her young son had been unable to leave the country after the boy’s father, the Australian businessman Ashley Crick, allegedly refused to release their passports after the boy was snatched from him at a restaurant on December 10.
On Wednesday, Col Chapman from the child recovery agency involved in the operation, said Mr Crick had handed over the pair’s passports to the Australian High Commission.
He said the move followed extensive legal action in Australia and had resulted in Ms Szonert’s family and Mr Crick’s parents agreeing to accompany Szonert and the child on the flight back to Australia.
Szonert was stranded in Malaysia and sparked controversy earlier this month after a video of her grabbing the child was circulated.
After the incident she came under pressure to hand the child over to Malaysian authorities – a request she refused leading to her being locked up overnight in a Malaysian jail.
She was released within 24 hours after the authorities conducted a welfare check on the child who was being cared for in Kuala Lumpur by Szonert’s mother, Kay.
Szonert and Mr Crick had been separated since 2012 but had moved back in together with the boy in Malaysia after Szonert spent time at a rehabilitation facility called The Cabin, sometimes known as the “Betty Ford Clinic of Asia”.
Szonert was staying with Mr Crick and their son in Kuala Lumpur when a dispute occurred between the pair leading to Szonert allegedly being locked out of their accommodation without the child and both their passports.
The 41-year-old actress, then engaged an Australian child recovery operative to assist her to snatch the child from Mr Crick while he ate breakfast with the boy at a restaurant in the capital.
Mr Crick, 43, who is an executive with iflix, a video streaming venture in Asia, last week told Australian media that he had filed a statement with Malaysian police after his son was snatched.
He said it was a parent’s worst nightmare and he expressed fears for his son’s safety. He is understood to be taking legal action in a bid to obtain greater access to the child.
An anonymous source has been circulating a document purporting to show Szonert had spent time at The Cabin for treatment for methamphetamine and depression.
The document dated October 23, 2015, is headed “To Whom it may concern” and appeared to link Szonert to having received treatment for “Methamphetamine dependence”.
The document prompted a furious response from Szonert saying that: “I deny these false allegations. This letter purporting to be from The Cabin has obviously been doctored and is very clearly photoshopped or fabricated. I am mortified that someone could do such a thing.”
Previously, Szonert and her family have denied she received any treatment for drug addiction at The Cabin, saying it was only for exhaustion and depression.
Mr Crick has previously said he hoped Szonert would comply with authorities to allow him to return to Australia with his son where he would fight for custody through the Australian court system.
The case sparked controversy after a video of the snatch was circulated.
The experience, captured on video given to Fairfax Media, showed Szonert calmly walking into the restaurant, picking up her son and walking out again, as Mr Crick stood talking with the burly man who accompanied her and was thought to be working for the child recovery agency.
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