It was the six words she’d waited two torturous years to hear — but the single mom struggled to process what the judge was telling her.
Her brain frozen in the moment, Sarah stared right through the judge at Richmond Provincial Court as he uttered, “You can go back to Australia.”
It took around 30 seconds, perhaps even a minute, before the magnitude of Judge Chen’s decision finally hit her.
“I thought, ‘oh my God, what’s going on?’ I was so excited I was in tears,” said Sarah of the decision to grant her a court order, allowing her and two-year-old son Simon to return to their native Sydney.
“I remember just breaking down in court, I was so overcome by what had just happened. I think I thanked the judge several times.”
The verdict, three weeks after a three-day court battle with her estranged and allegedly abusive ex-husband, granted her full custody of little Simon and freed her from the shackles of having to survive in Canada on $100 a month.
The News first told of Sarah’s plight last summer, sparking an incredible response from generous readers, with many donating items and gift cards for her and Simon and others taking them under their wings to offer support.
On Sunday, Sarah and Simon bode farewell to Canada and boarded a flight on a one-way ticket from Vancouver to Sydney.
Until the Jan. 31 decision, Sarah wasn’t allowed to leave the country because Simon’s father had visitation rights.
In the meantime, with no friends or family and fresh out of a transition home — where she fled to amid allegations of domestic abuse — she somehow managed to feed and clothe herself and her son on the pitiful $100 a month left over after rent on her tiny one-bedroomed apartment was paid.
She was caught in a system that prevented her from reaching the family safety net in Sydney, but failed to provide her with enough financial support in Canada.
“I want to thank, from the bottom of my heart all the people who’ve helped my son and I over the last year or so,” said Sarah before she left the country, perhaps for good.
“I will always remember the amazing generosity of those people. But, I have to say, I’m glad to be getting the hell out of Canada. Unfortunately, I got married to the wrong person.
“But this has given me a lot of knowledge about who to trust and I think it’s made me a stronger person.”
The News told last year how Sarah fled to Australia from Richmond Hospital, claiming she was beaten yet again at the hands of her husband.
However, she returned to Canada in 2011 with promises he had changed before she fled the family home once again, this time to a transition home for abused women.
Now Sarah hopes the return to Australia will help with the health of Simon, who was born prematurely and wasn’t expected to survive.
“He still doesn’t speak yet so I’m hoping being surrounded by a loving family will help with that,” she added.
“Everyone (in Sydney), especially my mum, was very excited when I said we were coming home.”