The devastated grandparents of a schoolgirl who was kidnapped by her own dad are appealing for help to be reunited with the youngster in the Middle East.
Joan and Cyril Smith, the parents of 39-year-old Nichola Smith who died earlier this year from an accidental overdose of prescription pain medication, are desperate to fly to Jordan to spend time with their granddaughter, who turns 14 on Wednesday.
The retired couple from Golborne spent thousands of pounds on legal fees in Dubai trying to help Nichola after her daughter Sana was kidnapped by her father, Nichola’s ex-husband, almost four years ago and taken to Jordan.
After a long legal battle and months of tense communication with Sana’s father, the Smiths have finally been given the go ahead to travel to Jordan to give their granddaughter a chest full of her mother’s treasured belongings.
“I have got to see her and hold her and talk to her about her mum,” said Joan. “Her father won’t let her come to us in case we don’t send her back. She’s living in Jordan now with her other grandparents, her dad only sees her when he can. He has a new wife and two little boys now.
“She doesn’t have either parent now. We have just got to build bridges and keep a relationship with him to keep contact with Sana. I hope someday, maybe when she’s 18, he will let her come and spend the holidays over here and she can see the rest of her family. We are trying to build up a rapport with him in order to be able to see her.”
Nichola, whose inquest took place last month at Bolton Coroner’s Court, slipped into a downward spiral following a domestic injury which resulted in chronic back pain.
Shortly after this, Sana, who was living in Dubai with her mum, was kidnapped by her dad during a routine custody visit and taken across the border into Jordan. Suffering from severe depression following the loss of her daughter, Nichola was visited by her father Cyril, who was at that time working as a joiner.
Due to his daughter’s worrying condition, Cyril ended up staying in the country for three months, losing out on work whilst also helping to pay for the crucial legal fees for lawyers in Dubai and Jordan.
She finally moved back to Wigan in 2015 after all contact with her daughter was lost. It was during this time Nichola began to take prescription painkillers and antidepressants to help with the daily struggles she faced.
In an attempt to help their daughter, the Smith’s found her a bungalow and kitted it out to suit her various mobility-limiting issues.
“We built wardrobes in her bedroom, got a washer, a dryer, a cooker and a fridge freezer,” added Joan. “She said, ‘I’ll pay you back’, but I just told her to give me whatever she could afford.
“It was costing us hand over fist all the time but if I thought, ‘If it makes her happy and gets her where she needs to be’.
“We sold our house and downsized and paid off the credit cards.”
In July 2017, her father Cyril found his daughter dead in her home as a result of respiratory failure brought on by the concoction of opioid drugs prescribed from various doctors. Now, after paying off Nichola’s debt and with funeral costs yet to be settled, Joan and Cyril have growing concerns about the £2,000 it will cost to visit Sana in January.
“I’m going to book the tickets regardless,” said Joan. “I owe it to Nichola to take Sana’s stuff back to her. I have got jewellery, and even her milk teeth in a little box upstairs. It has all filled a whole case. We just need to get to Sana and give her and her mother’s possessions to her.”
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