Stuart Dempster was shocked when he found out that his ex-wife and his daughter disappeared. He later knew that his ex-wife, a Thai national, left the country and took their four-year-old daughter, Natasha, to live with her in Thailand. Having nowhere to go, Dempster took an astounding step: the brokenhearted Australian hired a team of former special forces soldiers to find his daughter.
The Scottish-born hurdling coach, who now lives in Brisbane, Queensland, said, “I came back to an empty house. I was calling and calling, but no one answered their phone. I was in a panic. I was trying to figure out why it was happening. I tried, but I couldn’t get to the airport on time. That was it, she was gone, Natasha was gone. We weren’t even given a chance to say good-bye. It was just a horrible feeling returning to an empty, dark house for two and a half years. When I used to come home, I’d open the garage door and Natasha would be there jumping up and down, saying Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.”
According to an article by Daily Mail Online, for eighteen months, Dempster made an effort to bring back his daughter home through government agencies, but nobody helped him, so he decided to take more drastic measures. That was the time when Stuart hired a specialized organization composed of a group of ex-soldiers to bring her back from Thailand. “After each failed attempt, I just kept saying that I can’t give up. She’s too precious. I would have done anything for her, as any parent would for their child,” he said.
Until finally, a photo of his daughter being held in a remote Thailand village was uncovered by Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI), a group of former elite soldiers who worked on international cases concerning children who have been taken.
Stuart Dempster now reunites with her daughter after facing a two-year battle to try and have her back.
Finally, Stuart and Natasha were finally safe together on a plane bound for Australia.
An under-the-radar group known as CARI was formed by ex-Australian Army member and police officer Adam Whittington to help Stuart find his daughter.
Stuart and Natasha share a close bond with each other.
Natasha is back in Brisbane with her father. She is pictured on a plane before she was moved from Australia.
Stuart clutched onto hope, despite struggling with loneliness after losing his beloved daughter. After months of planning, CARI was able to swoop in May this year and pluck young Natasha from the village and return her home. The group also claimed Natasha’s family ignored repeated calls to return the young girl and that Thailand Police were also contacted and refused to help.
“It was insanely difficult to bring her home. There was little help from the law or government agencies. CARI is the real deal and the only ones who could help me. I’m so grateful the organization exists,” Dempster accounted.
In 1999, Whittington (far left, during his time with the special services) formed the organization in the interest of helping children around the world.
Stuart lost thousands of dollars and faced countless major setbacks until he finally found a way to bring his little girl home. He didn’t mind how much money he would lose in the process.
“But then, for two and a half years, I’d come home to nothing. It was a violation of my rights as a father. I was a very hands-on father, and we were and are very close. She’s such a happy soul. Natasha is a perfect, remarkable little girl,” he said.
When Mr. Dempster first came into contact with CARI, he told them that he desperately wanted to make contact with his daughter to let her know he cared and loved her, so they helped him. It was an extremely delicate operation with many failed attempts between January 2014 until Natasha was finally returned to Brisbane this year. The turning point in his mission to bring his daughter home came when he made contact with the UK-based charity, which works with similar cases.
“The entire process was frightening. I had to confront all of my fears and just keep playing the brave card. The stakes were so high. Psychologically, it was very stressful. The organization said Adam from CARI was the only one they trust,” said Mr. Dempster. Natasha was told that she was leaving Australia for a week’s holiday but was left wondering where Daddy had gone.
Mr. Dempster is so grateful to have his beautiful little girl back home.
CARI is an under-the-radar group that was formed by ex-Australian Army member and police officer Adam Whittington. Whittington founded the group in 1999 with only ten guys as members, mostly ex-special forces, to save children from potentially horrific outcomes.
“We were just having beers in a pub and heard about a bad abduction story in Indonesia, and one of us said, ‘Let’s go help.’ It was a joke at first, but then we started thinking about it and how to do it . . . and it has sort of gone from there,” Mr. Whittington said.
The controversial organization is committed to returning children to their rightful homes. “We have seen some horrible, horrible conditions while travelling around the world—children who have been either kidnapped by a parent, or in a lot of cases now, human traffickers for child prostitution,” he added.
“In Stuart’s case, we got some information and did a stakeout that led us to Natasha. We recovered her by waiting for the right, safe opportunity to come, which in this case was when Natasha walked outside the house,” he told the Daily Mail Australia. “Stuart saw her. I gave him the green light, and he ran over and picked her up. The bond between the two of them was incredible. You could see straight away in her face that she knew him.”
Natasha with her dedicated father, Stuart Dempster, before she was taken.
“It was so great to see her the first time after so long. She jumped into my arms,” Mr. Dempster said the moment he saw his daughter for the first time since her abrupt disappearance.
Dempster, Whittington, and Natasha forced to make their way across Thailand’s border in a boat before they could board a flight back to Australia.
Whittington said of the search, “Tracking her down was only half the battle. We’ve done a lot of cases, and honestly, the way the abductor acted in this one was completely selfish. Stuart was put through hell throughout all this. He did everything he could and was then left with no other choice but this to get his daughter back.”
In 2013, Natasha was four when was taken from Australia to Thailand. She’s now seven and is truly home.
“It was a heartbreaking process. I’m not a spiteful type of person. I did it because I knew I was doing the right thing for my daughter. I had to get through this bad part of it because I was doing it for the good. I’m just so grateful she’s back in my life. I’m working to make sure she’s rehabilitated back into Australian life. I have people with me helping so I know and do everything I can to help her,” Dempster said.
Stuart Dempster said the process was completely worthwhile, and he is thrilled his daughter is happy and settled at home. He said that there were far more opportunities for Natasha at home with him in Australia than being stuck in the horrible place the little girl’s mother took her to.
Shortly after they returned her to her father in Australia, CARI founder, Adam Whittington, took a picture with Natasha who seemed very happy.
Adam Whittington has over twenty years of experience working in high-profile missing person cases worldwide. He was the lead investigator of an abducted and murdered British girl in Japan, which is one of the most high-profile abduction cases in Japanese history. Mr Whittington’s investigations helped identify a suspect who was subsequently sentenced to life in prison for eight rapes and murders of foreign women.
Operatives from Child Abduction Recovery International have recovered children in Indonesia, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, the Philippines, Japan, Russia, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Syria, and UAE, as well as many other European, South American and African countries.
Adam commented that the amazing perseverance and ultimate success Mr. Dempster had in getting his daughter back is inspirational for other parents who have had their children taken. he added, “it might take time, but you children are waiting and thinking of you. It’s all about the children, that’s why we do this.”