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Stuart Dempster from Brisbane in Queensland took unusual action after a two year battle with his ex wife over his daughter. Increasingly frustrated with government agencies who failed to get his daughter home Mr Dempster took matters into his own hands enlisting a group of ex-soldiers to extract his daughter from Thailand.
In January 2013 the Scottish born hurling coach was horrified when he arrived home to find his Thai wife and daughter, who was four at the time, had disappeared. Despite rushing to the airport to stop his wife taking his daughter Natasha to live with her maternal grandmother in Thailand, his wife and child were gone and Mr Dempster was left alone. For almost 18 months the distraught father tracked down ever lead, asking the police and government agencies for help as well as taking every legal option available to him.
Mr Dempster was forced to take such drastic measures after a photo of his daughter being held in a remote Thailand village was uncovered by Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI) a group of former elite soldiers that works on international cases concerning children who have been taken.
After months of planning, CARI was able to swoop in May this year and pluck young Natasha from the village and return her home. The group also claimed Natasha’s family ignored repeated calls to return the young girl, and that Thailand Police were also contacted and refused to help.
‘It was insanely difficult to bring her home. There was little help from the law or government agencies. CARI is the real deal and the only ones who could help me. I’m so grateful the organisation exists,’ he said
CARI, which describes itself as a ‘under the radar’ group, was formed by ex-Australian Army member and police officer Adam Whittington. Mr Whittington said the group, which he founded in 1999 with ’10 guys, mostly ex-special forces ‘, uses ‘elite military and specialised police experience’ to save children from potentially horrific outcomes.
‘We were just having beers in a pub and heard about a bad abduction story in Indonesia and one of us said, ‘let’s go help’ – it was a joke at first, but then we started thinking about it and how to do it… and it has sort of gone from there,’ Mr Whittington said.
‘We have seen some horrible, horrible conditions while travelling around the world children who have been kidnapped either by a parent, or in a lot of cases now, human traffickers for child prostitution.’
The controversial organisation is committed to returning children to their rightful homes, Mr Dempster says the moment he saw his daughter for the first time since her abrupt disappearance was ‘wonderful. Mr Dempster says the process was completely worthwhile and he is thrilled his daughter is happy and settled at home. ‘It was a heartbreaking process. I’m not a spiteful type of person, I did it because I knew I was doing the right thing for my daughter,’ he said. ‘There were far more opportunities for Natasha at home with me in Australia than being stuck in that horrible place.’