Four sisters have been forced from their Queensland home and sent back to Italy, where a bitter custody dispute between their parents will continue.
The girls were dragged kicking and screaming into police cars last night - the result of a two-year custody battle.
Moments after the first child was taken away, armed police brought out another.
The four girls, aged nine and 15, were heard screaming: “Let me go!” and “Mum I love you, they’re not going to take us to Italy I promise!”.
But Australian police are under orders from the family court that the girls must be deported.
The girls came to Australia on holiday with their mother two years ago and never left. Since then, there has been a bitter custody dispute and, a few months ago, their mother and her family made it public.
A judge found the girls had been “unfairly influenced” by their mother and her family in a very disturbing and very public campaign to keep them in Australia.
He said: “It is important to remember the children’s objections are principally founded in a belief that their mother cannot return with them”.
The girls’ Australian mother said she would be arrested if she returned to Italy, however the judge sought and received an understanding from their Italian father that he would withdraw any criminal complaints against her.
The custody dispute is not over; the girls were returned to Italy under the Hague Convention, which means a hearing will now take place under Italian jurisdiction.