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FED: Father of abducted son talking to mercenary mum

By Vincent Morello
15 Dec 2008 1:10 AM
EDS: Note that court order to make public the details of the mother and son means stories must include warning for people not to approach the pair if identified (2nd last par).

SYDNEY, Dec 15 AAP - A senior fire brigade officer whose mentally ill wife has abducted their son overseas is taking advice from a woman who hired mercenaries to rescue her own children.

NSW Fire Brigades deputy commissioner Ken Thompson has not seen or heard from his wife Melinda or their four-year-old son Andrew in eight months, and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have issued a warrant for her arrest.

The 46-year-old woman has a paranoia disorder, her husband says, and disappeared with their son on April 24.

Mr Thompson has successfully applied to the Hague Convention, which is an agreement between more than 170 countries for the safe return of abducted children.

Interpol has issued alerts in 187 countries and he has launched media campaigns in Australia and overseas.

The grief-stricken father was successful ten days ago in gaining an unprecedented order from the Family Court to publicly release the names of his wife and son to help in the search.

Mr Thompson is now considering taking things a step further.

He has been communicating with Canadian mother Melissa Hawach, who made international headlines in 2006 when she hired a team of former SAS soldiers to rescue her two young daughters from war-torn Lebanon.

"I contacted her to get some insights from her on what else I could do," Mr Thompson told AAP.

"There's been a couple of email exchanges and she's very supportive."

Mrs Hawach's Australian-Lebanese husband Joseph was hiding with them in Beirut when Australian Brian Corrigan and his team snatched the daughters and smuggled them across the Syrian border.

Mr Thompson said he first has to locate his wife and son before he considers his options.

"My first objective is to find him and I guess once I find him, that will determine the strategy after that," he said.

"At the moment, I'm going down the path of the Hague Convention because that's the avenue that's available to me."

His wife started to exhibit paranoid tendencies in December 2007, which he said was documented by a Sydney psychologist.

"It was like a switch had been flipped and she had gone from one person to a complete stranger," he said.

Mrs Thompson left the family home on January 1 with Andrew, prompting court action by her husband to gain access to their son.

The AFP learned she and Andrew flew on April 24 from Sydney to Singapore and then on to Frankfurt, Germany.

Her family say they do not know their whereabouts.

Before the couple married six years ago, she had lived in Germany, France, the UK and Dubai, and is fluent in German and proficient in French.

"She knows her way around extremely well," Mr Thompson said.

Investigations by the AFP and German, French and Interpol authorities have failed to locate the pair.

He is worried the longer she is on the run with Andrew the more harm he will suffer.

"And that emotional damage will continue and it will get worse day by day," Mr Thompson said.

Both mother and son are travelling on Australian passports and she may be travelling under the name of Melina Stratton.

Anyone who identifies the pair or may know where they are is not to approach them and any information should be provided to local police or Interpol.

"I'll never give up," Mr Thompson said.