HIS greatest fear was that his estranged wife would take his children from their home in a tiny, snowy town in Canada, and run away to Australia.
- Caroline Overington
- From: The Australian
- February 04, 2010
So scared was he of losing them, he’d taken their passports and hidden them away.
The effort was in vain: Curtis McConnell, 31, of Millet, near Edmonton in Alberta, on Tuesday entered the house he once shared with his infant children to find something so much worse.
According to local reports, his wife, Allyson Louise McConnell, formerly of Gosford on the NSW central coast, had not taken the children.
She had allegedly drowned them in the bathtub and left their bodies in the water, for him to find.
Mr McConnell pulled the children – Connor, 2, and Jayden, 10 months – from the tub.
He rushed blindly to a neighbour’s house, but she could see that it was just too late.
Mrs McConnell, maiden name Meager, wasn’t at the scene.
According to reports, she had driven to a local Toys R Us, abandoned her husband’s Chrysler sedan in the car park, and then thrown herself from an icy bridge on to a busy freeway. She survived and is being treated in hospital.
The couple had been involved in a bitter custody battle over the boys. Court documents revealed Mrs McConnell wanted to bring them to Australia to live with her mother, Helen, in Gosford.
Mr McConnell wanted them to stay in Millet, population 2100, which is about 50km from Edmonton, where his family has lived for generations, and where the children were born.
In December, a judge had banned Mrs McConnell from leaving the country, and ruled that the children should stay in Canada on an interim basis, while the matter was being sorted out.
Canada has a shared parenting law similar to Australia’s, although the role played by parents before separation carries greater weight.
An affidavit lodged with the Court of Queens Bench, Alberta, dated December 10 last year, says the couple met in Canada in November 2005, when Allyson was in Canada on a work visa. They married in NSW on Australia Day, 2007.
Allyson got Canadian residency in April 2007 and the couple moved to a house on 52nd Street in Millet about a year ago.
According to the affidavit, Mr McConnell “noticed our relationship began deteriorating in approximately September 2009 when the respondent told me that she was not happy. We attempted marriage counselling, but that was not successful.
“Notwithstanding, we have been parenting our children equally in the same household.”
Until last month Mr McConnell was sleeping in the basement. He was paying $657 in monthly child support and, according to Curtis, he was as much responsible for caring for the children as his wife, waking them each morning and getting them ready for the day before he worked an afternoon shift at a hardware store.
“She has been threatening me that she wants to move back to Australia with our children,” Mr McConnell said in his affidavit.
“I am completely opposed to this and I am fearful that she will attempt to do this without my consent or knowledge.”