‘I did not abandon my wife’ - Husband refutes claims of female farmer begging for help after fire destroys house, business; investigation backs her story
Michael Aird, husband of Nadine Aird, who lost millions of dollars in assets in a fire which razed the house she lived in with her family in Content, Hanover, recently, is rejecting claims he abandoned his wife.
Nadine Aird’s predicament was highlighted in The Sunday Gleaner last week in the story, ‘Please help me to start over’, where the 45-year-old farmer shared that after losing her five-bedroom house and thriving farming business in an electrical fire on January 8, she was abandoned by her husband and forced to live in her car until he took it.
However, following the publication of the story, Michael Aird wrote a letter to The Gleaner, noting that he found the article extremely sensational with a lot of untruths.
“I did not abandon my estranged wife, as she has stated. Although we were living in the same house, we were separated for the past two years due to matrimonial differences. I was still living in the house because of my two lovely daughters and the fact that I was the one responsible for the property,” he stated.
He also refuted statements made by his wife that she was sleeping in the car after the fire left her homeless. “That is not so, as she has been sleeping elsewhere before and after the fire. The car, which is not presently owned by me, was left in my care for the past four years. I had to remove the car to a secure place to avoid vandalism, as the property had now become insecure,” he said.
Michael said he was unaware of his estranged wife’s whereabouts for several weeks before the fire, and that she turned up two days after the incident. “She also stated that both her parents are deceased; this is not so, as her biological mother and sister are still living in the same district,” he added.
The father also noted that his daughter was not presently attending Montego Bay Community College, as stated, and that she has been gainfully employed for the past year.
He also claimed that he was the one who started the farming business, with funding from a third party, loans that he received from various lending institutions, family members and friends.
“Since the start of the business in 2013, I have never seen or heard of any Damian Henry (quoted in last week’s Sunday Gleaner story), who she said that she had employed. During her absence, I was the sole person staying with the children and running the business without any additional labour prior to the fire,” he pointed out.
He said there were other discrepancies in the article that he did not wish to comment on at this time.
However, further checks by The Sunday Gleaner revealed that Nadine Aird grew up with her aunt, who she refers to as her mother. That woman has died. Nadine has not had any mother-daughter relationship with her biological mother over several years.
Voice notes shared by Nadine with The Sunday Gleaner revealed that she waited for eight days for her husband to respond to a request from PATH to furnish information on their two daughters, who were being given an opportunity to get help.
In fact, it was one of his daughters’ schools that reached out for assistance on behalf of the girls when The Sunday Gleaner picked up the story.
Nadine Aird’s story was also supported by a deaconess at the Forrest Church of God, where the Airds were baptised. Hyacinth Goodlitt confirmed that Nadine was sleeping in the car after the house was destroyed.
Lauding her for her strength, Goodlitt said Nadine was the breadwinner in her home, the one who placed her family on their feet.
“When you see her use a spray pan carried on her back, it was like any man,” she stated, adding that she watched “this very strong woman” plant okra and callaloo to sustain her business.
Michael Aird, who also spoke with The Sunday Gleaner last week before penning his letter, had said then that the business belonged to his wife, and that he was the person who would go to purchase chicken feed, sawdust, and other items needed by the farm.
He was asked why he stayed in the relationship and not secure a job that would pay him a good salary, owing to the fact they were no longer involved as man and wife. Michael responded that he didn’t want his wife to complain about him leaving her to carry on the business on her own.
Checks made to verify Damian Henry’s true identity proved that Michael only knew him by his pet name.
As it relates to his daughter’s school, Nadine said because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was unable to pay the fees and her daughter was forced to seek work in the business process outsourcing sector.
“She had only done the first year of her degree programme, when we couldn’t afford to pay her fees owing to COVID. But she has three years left at MoBay Community College to complete,” the mother explained.
Nadine said she was just seeking to rebuild her life and a house, in order to give her children stability.
“I cannot imagine why a father would not want that for his children,” she stated.
The children are currently being temporarily housed by Michael’s family, while he said he is residing with friends.
Nadine said she is still moving from pillar to post.
For those wanting to offer assistance, Nadine Aird can be reached at 876-318-0028/876-428-0635.