‘I was kidnapped by my father as a toddler and taken to Trinidad... I want to know why’

Islington Gazette front page from July 1973.

Islington Gazette front page from July 1973. - Credit: Archant

Damian Deen was in his 20s when he discovered he’d been kidnapped by his father as a toddler and smuggled to the Caribbean.

Damian with the Gazette article from the 1970s.

Damian with the Gazette article from the 1970s. - Credit: Archant

He had no idea his mother, and the police, had launched a huge hunt for him and believed he was dead – until he found the front page of the Islington Gazette from July 31, 1973.

“Bring back my baby” was the headline. A desperate wife, fearing her Trinidadian husband had taken their 21-month-old son out of the country, had turned to the media for help.

And now, 44 years later, Damian is doing the same. After hitting a brick wall on his crusade to find out the truth of the situation, the energy company director is now having to appeal to strangers who may know what happened.

Until his discovery in 1995, he knew next to nothing about his mother or what went on back in north London. As a young boy on the island his father had given nothing away.

Damian with his parents.

Damian with his parents. - Credit: Archant

“I would ask questions and he would say: ‘I’ll tell you when you’re much older’, and it never came,” Damian, now 46, told the Gazette. “When I was in school you would stand up for Mother’s Day and sing songs about your mother. I would be in the hall crying my eyes out and not knowing why.”

As a teenager, Damian’s father – an alcoholic – would abuse him, and their relationship suffered until they eventually stopped speaking altogether.

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“There was a fair amount of abuse,” continued Damian. “I tried to commit suicide when I was a teenager, and tried to attack him many times.

“I was living with my aunt and uncle. I went through high school and got a job at a ship repair yard. He had stopped drinking but I still didn’t see him.

“Eventually me and my now wife moved back into his house and I tried to make peace.”

The two did make peace, and Damian took care of his father when he was diagnosed with cancer. Before he died, he learnt his father’s version of events.

“He believed my mother was trying to use me as some guinea pig,” Damian explained. “She was seeing somebody else, he was a scientist and they were going to use me for experiments. To be honest that didn’t hold much water to me – it seems farfetched.

“He told me he took me. It took a lot of planning. My aunt was coming over from Montreal and he asked if he could have me for the night, by this time my parents had separated.

“He told people he was going to Regent’s Park with me and went to the airport – he had his tickets – and boarded a plane to Luxembourg. Then we went to Barbados and stayed there for two or three weeks, then to Trinidad.

“Every time my mother came close to looking for me I was moved. He had someone back in England fishing him information.”

Damian’s father gave him contact details for his mother’s sister, and they exchanged letters in which she told him the family believed he had died.

Then he found the Gazette story – and in 1994 had his first contact with his mother, which only added to the mystery. He continued: “She wrote to me saying she’d had a traumatic period, years of unhappiness. She said too much had happened, we couldn’t pick up the pieces, and to please move on. That was hard to take, a little bit of a rejection.”

Still wanting answers, Damian, his wife and two daughters went to see his mother on his birthday, after getting her address from his aunt on a trip to England.

“Her husband came to the door and said: ‘She doesn’t want anything to do with you’,” said Damian. “She was inside. So I said: ‘I’ll go away, but I’m here for the next week,’ and told him where they could find me.

“Then she came to the door and said: ‘You’ve travelled far, the least I can do is invite you in.’

“I’m thinking I will find out what happened. But she didn’t want to know anything. We sat for 20 minutes and talked about nothing.”

Damian left, still none the wiser and now wondering why his mother didn’t want to know him.

After moving to Hertfordshire in 2004, he sent her a picture of his daughters, only to be rejected again. But despite warnings from his wife not to get lost in the situation, he still feels the need to find out what happened.

“I would like to know why I was taken and what led to it,” he said. “I can’t blame my mother for her feelings because I don’t know [what happened]. I can only blame my father.

“But if my children had been taken from me and came back in my life, to me it would be a gift.”

If you can help Damian, please contact the Gazette newsdesk on 020 7433 0104 or email sam.gelder@archant.co.uk.