The story of the Italian father whose four daughters were abducted to Australia by their mother has finally come full circle. The Australian media that for years unquestioningly relayed the mother’s false allegations of abuse and violence has now completely reversed itself. The Australian news program 60 Minutes has blown the lid off Laura Garrett’s false claims and revealed Tommaso Vincenti to be the gentle, loving man I’ve come to know him to be.
But there’s more – much more. In his emails to me, Tommaso has always said he believed that the Australian Embassy in Rome knowingly abetted Garrett’s illegal international abduction of the four girls. The investigative reporting of 60 Minutes shows he’s been right all along. The reporter for 60 Minutes minces no words about the subject, saying embassy personnel “knowingly abetted an international kidnapping.” And so they did.
I won’t reprise the facts of the case. For those you can go to my previous posts here and here.
Reporter Tara Brown gently, sometimes incredulously, but always firmly questions her interviewees, mostly Laura Garrett and Tommaso Vincenti. The comparison leaves little doubt about who is telling the truth and who isn’t.
For example, When Laura set out on her campaign to get the Australian Embassy to issue passports to her and the couple’s four girls, she and her mother in Australia “bombarded” embassy staff with claims of abuse against Tommaso. Appropriately, the embassy told her to report the matter to the Italian police and social workers in the child welfare agency. She claims she did so repeatedly, but, as was revealed during court proceedings in Australia and by 60 Minutes, Italian authorities say no reports were ever filed. They also say that Tommaso has never been charged with or convicted of a crime. When Tara Brown confronts Laura with these inconsistencies, her response is “they lied.”
In fact, according to her, everyone lies except of course her and her mother and grandmother. Not only does Tommaso lie, according to Laura, but so do Italian social services, the police and an Italian doctor. In her effort to make her criminal abduction of her children acceptable to Australian courts, she asked an Italian physician to certify that she had diagnosed Laura as having been the victim of domestic violence by Tommaso. But the doctor stated in writing and under oath for the benefit of the Australian court that she had never made such a finding. To Laura, she’s just another liar.
Not so Laura’s mother who is, by anyone’s definition, the classic “piece of work.” Mama Kate makes an appearance on the 60 Minutes report and it doesn’t take long for the old saying “the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree” to come to mind. Beyond trying to turn the Australian Embassy and courts against Tommaso with repeated false accusations, Kate’s main contribution to the family turmoil came when Tommaso and Laura were still married and living in Italy. Kate came for a two-week visit with her friend Bob. They got Tommaso to pay for a rental car with which to tour rural Tuscany. That was Eu 1500 out of pocket to him, money they never offered to repay.
But Kate and Bob overshot Tuscany a bit. Having stolen one of Tommaso’s credit cards, they went on a spree into France and, two months later, came to rest in Barcelona. Tommaso and Spanish police finally ran them to ground there only to find that the pair had been living in the car for at least a month. The car was wrecked, and bulged with old food and dirty clothing. Someone paid for their flight back to Australia, but it wasn’t Kate or Bob. Of the incident, Tara Brown says that it “can only be described as bizarre.”
Sixty Minutes’ plain message? Look at who these people are. They’re users and abusers; they’re liars.
By the end of the report, we’ve seen Tommaso and Tara Brown walking and talking in scenic Florence and the beautiful Tuscan countryside. They flip through old photo albums showing Tommaso and Laura in the first flush of married love. They talk about Laura’s accusations of domestic violence, at the same time that Tommaso’s slight build (he’s shorter than Brown) is there for all to see. We hear him say time and again that he wants Laura to come back to Italy and be a proper mother to their daughters. And we hear her and her despicable mother and grandmother lie about him, lies that are laid bare by court documents produced by the police, social workers and the like.
In short, Tara Brown makes it clear who the bad actor in this drama has always been. No viewer can miss the point.
Australian Embassy Knew Mother Was ‘Planning to Live in Queensland’But there was another bad actor – the Australian Embassy in Rome that well knew that Laura wanted to abduct the children and aided her in doing so every step of the way. For three years, Laura secretly communicated with embassy personnel in an effort to get passports for the girls so they could go to Australia. From the first, she told them the same lies she’s told to everyone else – that Tommaso was abusive. She also told the embassy that she’d gone to social services and the police. Embassy staffers never attempted to verify those claims.
She also told them she was financially destitute. In fact she made the claim twice in an attempt to get free services from the embassy. Those claims they did investigate and both times learned that Laura Garrett was lying to them. So, faced with a known liar, what did the embassy personnel do? They believed unquestioningly her claims of abuse despite the truth’s being just a telephone call away. Laura made it clear to them that she was going to Australia with the children and had no intention of returning. Embassy staffers knew very well that that constituted international child abduction, which is both a criminal and a civil offense, but they helped her anyway.
After three years, all of a sudden, embassy documents began referring to the “urgent need” for passports for the children. No one at the embassy ever contacted Tommaso for his side of the story, but embassy communications say frankly that Garrett was “planning to live in QLD,” i.e. Queensland. It doesn’t get much more blatant than that with the possible exception of the fact that embassy personnel knew that Laura’s and the children’s plane tickets were for one-way flights.
They also knew what she was doing violated numerous laws. That’s why, just before boarding the flight for Australia, one embassy staffer advised Laura to “seek legal advice” when she arrived.
During all this time, Laura was lying her lips off. Of course she told Tommaso they were just going for a one-month holiday. That’s what convinced him to give his permission for them to leave. But she never told the embassy that Tommaso had been induced to grant his permission by fraud.
In short, the Australian Embassy in Rome knowingly conspired with Laura Garrett in the international kidnapping of her children. Personnel there turned a blind eye to her numerous lies in order to do so. Sixty MInutes sought comment from both the embassy in Rome and the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra. Both refused to do so, although they did provide written answers to written questions posed by 60 Minutes. Those can be found on the 60 Minutes website. The gist of their answers is that they were doing nothing more than assisting an Australian citizen in returning to Australia. But given the documented facts, that’s a load of rubbish, mate.
When last we heard from Tommaso Vincenti, he was struggling to overcome two years of parental alienation of his daughters by their mother, grandmother and great grandmother. He was trying to recover from a broken wrist courtesy of the Australian media camped out in front of his house. For now, he’d like some peace and quiet and, with Laura and her loathesome relatives in Australia and his daughters living with him, maybe he’s finally got a chance to simply live his life as the one thing he’s always most wanted to be – a decent, kind and loving father.