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Friday, September 24, 1999

Mother had difficulty caring for baby: court papers
Fell from B.C. Bridge: Woman embroiled in legal battle with estranged husband
Lindsay Kines, Chad Skelton and Neal Hall
The Vancouver Sun, with files from Petti Fong

NORTH VANCOUVER - A woman questioned by North Vancouver RCMP after her daughter survived a 46-metre fall from the Capilano Suspension Bridge is embroiled in a legal fight with her estranged husband, according to court documents.

And the woman, Nadia Hama, has told family court in British Columbia that she had difficulty caring for her daughter Kaya, who has Down's syndrome.

Ms. Hama's husband, Kjeld Werbes, is a Vancouver lawyer specializing in securities law for companies trading on the Vancouver Stock Exchange.

The couple married in 1996 -- it was Mr. Werbes' second marriage and Ms. Hama's fifth. They split up in January, 1998, several months before Kaya was born in April of the same year.

"Their relationship has not been smooth," wrote family court master Ronald Barber in June, 1998.

On Aug. 31 in an interim ruling, Justice Donna Martinson found Mr. Werbes guilty of contempt of court for delaying the sale of his Ferrari car to pay support arrears and preventing Ms. Hama from using his Whistler, B.C., condominium. He has not yet been sentenced. Repeated calls to Mr. Werbes' office and home were not returned.

The child's mother was detained overnight on Wednesday for questioning but released late yesterday afternoon without charge.

"There is not enough evidence for any charges at this time but we will continue to investigate," Constable Heidi Hoffman said. "There is still a criminal investigation in the matter."

Const. Hoffman said police were still interviewing people on the bridge at the time of the incident.

In February of this year, Ms. Hama asked the court for an increase in child support from Mr. Werbes after the provincial ministry for children and families withdrew home support services.

Until October, 1998, the ministry had provided Ms. Hama with 20 hours a week of home care help. Judge Martinson wrote that "the helper would work with [Kaya] and care for her so that Ms. Hama could either rest or take [her four-year-old son] Jovan to his activities and classes."

The ruling continues: "Ms. Hama has provided a letter from the ministry written by the acting clinical supervisor, who apologizes for 'having to withdraw this necessary service' from her. He indicates that this was being done due to the existing political and fiscal climate."

Judge Martinson ordered Mr. Werbes to increase his child support by $500 a month -- to $2,217 -- noting the "unexpected loss of this service is a compelling change of circumstances."

Kaya's Down's syndrome apparently put a strain on Ms. Hama.

In June, 1998, family court master Barber -- responding to a request from Mr. Werbes that Ms. Hama not be allowed to take the children out of B.C. for more than 14 days -- noted Ms. Hama argued she may have to leave the province for an extended period "to be with her family and friends who would assist her in the recovery from the ... difficulty she is having in coping with Kaya at this time."

Ms. Hama's criminal lawyer, Manuel Azevedo, said yesterday afternoon that the police handling of his client has been "atrocious" since she was taken into custody at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

"She is distraught, the police aren't telling her what is going on and they aren't letting her see her child," he said.

"They have denied her sleep, they have denied her requests to speak to counsel and they continue to interrogate her even when she broke into tears and asked them to stop," Mr. Azevedo added.

"The police have not told her where the baby is or how the baby is doing," he said. "They are torturing her. They are playing psychological games with her."

He also noted his client has been denied medical attention for injuries sustained to her arm and ankle after she fell on the bridge platform.

The couple's home, a condominium in Vancouver, is valued at $460,000. From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Werbes had an income ranging from a low of $267,161 to a high of $454,811.

In addition, he also had income from investments and stock options. In June, 1998, family court master Barber noted that Ms. Hama was unemployed and "will not be able to return to the workforce for some considerable time" in part because "she is now involved in learning to cope with Kaya's care."

The couple's divorce trial is to begin later this year.

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