A boy has been reunited with his grandma after his mother said she handed him to a random woman in a coffee shop more than a year ago.
Hoang Vinh Le, two, was reunited with his delighted grandmother Kim Huong Tran at the end of September, 16 months after he was reported missing.
In a bizarre missing persons case which baffled Australia, his mother Lyn Kim Do said she handed Vinh to a woman named ‘Kathy Nguyen’ in May 2021 – along with $200 to care for him – after they met at a coffee shop in Cabramatta in Sydney’s west.
The young mum was jailed for contempt after refusing to say where he was, or give details about his new carer.
Now, after more than a year, Vinh has been found, with his grandmother telling A Current Affair he had been abandoned at a childcare centre for three days in Campsie, in Sydney’s south-west.
Vinh has been found again, with his grandmother telling A Current Affair he had been abandoned at a childcare centre in Campsie, in Sydney’s south-west
The little boy’s disappearance followed court orders made on April 19 last year that the youngster was to live with his maternal grandmother after a family dispute. His parents refused to hand him over
‘The missing boy has been found,’ grandmother Kim said Tuesday. ‘Finally I got him back.’
On September 25, Kim received a surprise call from police who put Vinh on a video call to confirm she recognised him.
Eventually, she was told how he was abandoned at a childcare centre in Sydney, the grandmother claimed.
She said she was told a young woman had brought Vinh to the daycare centre and asked staff to keep him there for 12 hours.
After three hours, the young woman then called to say she urgently needed to go to Vietnam for a funeral.
‘She wanted to keep him there for a day, but the lady says, “no, I don’t take care overnight. You have to come pick him up”, and no one picked him up for three days,’ Kim said.
Staff at the centre eventually recognised his father Hoang Thanh Le when he came to pick him up and called police.
After a paternity test confirmed Vinh’s identity and an emergency court sitting granted Kim custody, she was finally allowed to bring him home.
However, Vinh initially struggled to remember her and now no longer responds to his name.
‘I don’t know what they called him, a different name. I call him Vinh or before I called him Vincent,’ Kim said.
‘He has a skin rash, so he’s itchy a lot, so I have to scratch him like all the time.
On September 25, Kim was called by police and asked her grandchild’s name, date of birth and where he was lost. Then, she got to see Vinh on a video call with police to confirm she recognised him
After a paternity test confirmed Vinh’s identity and an emergency court sitting granted Kim custody, she was finally allowed to bring him home
‘He cries during the night. So when he sleeps, I’m always there with him. I think he’s a bit frightened, because he just doesn’t want anyone to leave him.’
Discussing the case, NSW Police Detective Inspector Timothy Liddiard described it as ‘unique’ and ‘complex’.
‘We conducted a number of overt investigations which included searches of premise,’ he said.
He revealed that during searches police had found evidence Vinh was at several premises, finding car seats, nappies, toys and clothing, but never managed to find the child himself.
‘But ultimately it was very satisfying to be able to reunite the family,’ he added.
‘We certainly have a bit of wrap up to do where we need to try and track down Vinh’s movements for that period of time.’
Kim helped raise Vinh when the couple split shortly after he was born in June 2020.
She was granted custody of him before the parents changed their mind and got a court order so he could stay with his father Thanh.
However, Kim refused to hand Vinh over.
Thanh then took the child on April 9 last year, kickstarting a bizarre series of events.
Hoang Vinh Le (pictured), who was 19-month-old when he was last seen, had been missing since May last year
In a sworn affidavit, his mum said she left baby Vinh with his godmother because she ‘could not give him the care he needed’ and she ‘did not want him to live with her mother’
His father took the child from a doctor’s waiting room, leaving his grandmother devastated.
‘I’ve got the order from the Federal Court saying that the child’s to live with me until 18, or else I wouldn’t be snatching the kid off,’ Thanh told police at the time.
In a Facebook post by Thanh in in May 2021, he shared pictures of Vinh.
‘Just informing everyone that myself and my partner and our son Hoang Vinh Le is safe and all living happy together there for (sic) we are not missing. So I don’t know why we are listed as missing people LOL.’
The parents were arrested a week later. But there was no sign of their son.
In a sworn affidavit, Do said she left baby Vinh with his godmother because she ‘could not give him the care he needed’ and she ‘did not want him to live with her mother’.
His mother Lyn Kim Do, 21 was found guilty of contempt in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia in February and sentenced to six months behind bars.
It is the second time Do was jailed for contempt relating to her son Vinh, after she received an early sentence of one week due to her noncompliance with orders regarding the child.