Toronto

Mother accused in 1993 abduction case remains in custody

Patricia O'Byrne, the woman charged in an 18-year-old parental abduction case, will remain in custody for at least another day. Her bail hearing has been rescheduled for Wednesday.
Patricia O'Byrne made a brief court appearance on Monday, when her bail hearing was held over until Tuesday. (Alex Tavshunsky/CBC)

The woman charged in an 18-year-old parental abduction case returned to a Toronto courtroom Tuesday for a bail hearing, but will remain in court for at least another day.

Patricia O'Byrne made her first court appearance on Monday.  Another appearance was scheduled for Tuesday but that was later postponed until Wednesday. 

O'Byrne, 54, was arrested last week in Victoria and is accused of violating a custody order and leaving Ontario with her baby 18 years ago.

Police allege that in 1993, O’Byrne fled from Toronto to B.C. with 20-month-old Sigourney Chisholm following a custody battle with the girl’s father, Joe Chisholm.

Chisholm spent 18 years searching for Sigourney, who is now 20 years old.

Reporting from the courthouse ahead of O’Byrne’s court appearance on Tuesday, CBC’s Genevieve Tomney said high-profile lawyer Ed Greenspan will represent O’Byrne.

"Her lawyers tell us there is much more to this story than what has been reported," said Tomney.

Tomney said it’s expected Greenspan will try on Tuesday to get O’Byrne released on bail.

"Yesterday one of Greenspan’s partners appeared in court and told the media he believes there is no reason for her to be in custody. He doesn't believe she is a flight risk."

Police say Sigourney and her mother had been living in Victoria under assumed names: her mother as Pamela Whelan, her daughter as Thea Whelan.

Pamela Whelan worked for the B.C. government as a public affairs officer and until May was on the parents' committee at Victoria High School.

Thea Whalen was chosen co-valedictorian when she graduated from Vic High in 2009.

Joe Chisholm has said he is looking forward to a reunion with his daughter, but will allow her to decide the timing of any meeting.

CBC has spoken to Don Chisholm, Joe Chisholm’s father.

He told CBC News the family is happy to see that the young woman is doing well and is attending university in Ontario.