x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Woman fighting for custody of sons loses second appeal

British mother may never see her children again after court refuses to allow her to remain in the country.

DUBAII // A British mother found guilty of adultery may never see her children again after the emirate's highest court yesterday refused to let her remain in the country. Marnie Pearce, 40, had hoped to have her conviction overturned so she could keep her two sons, aged eight and four, with her in Dubai. But a panel of five judges sitting in the Court of Cassation dismissed the appeal - her second - and upheld her three-month sentence and subsequent deportation.

British Embassy officials have written to the Attorney General asking that the deportation order be rescinded, and friends said the former teaching assistant was still determined to fight for custody of her sons in a civil hearing. However, a lawyer said yesterday's decision could cost Pearce the civil custody hearing. Abdulhamid al Kumaity said a mother convicted of an honour crime usually forfeited her right to apply for custody. However, he said Pearce could apply to have her criminal record expunged in three years and reapply for custody then. Pearce and her former husband separated in December 2007. He filed for custody a year ago, then accused her of the criminal offense of adultery. She denied the charge but was convicted in November and sentenced to six months in jail - halved on appeal in January - to be followed by deportation.

Pearce went on the run with the children, but turned herself in last month, handing the boys over to their father in an emotional scene outside the Dubai courts. tyaqoob@thenational.ae