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Sophia breaks free: I fled NZ for my kids!

The Kiwi model tells us why she ran away

Update 16/04/16: Thane Kirby has now returned to New Zealand with his daughters Honey and Lola after flying to Australia last week to bring them home. On Friday, he took to Facebook to thank those who had supported him during the ordeal, writing that it had “been a really tough time on our family”. For Sophia’s side of the story, keep reading below.

“There’s a reason I left. It’s purely to be the best mother that I can be.”

After a week of newspaper headlines claiming she skipped the country with her two young daughters, leaving her estranged husband bereft, model Sophia Nash sounds strong and determined as she breaks her silence exclusively to Woman’s Day.

“The driving force was exhaustion,” the 27-year-old mum-of-two says of her decision to try to carve out a better life overseas for herself and her daughters, Honey, five, and Lola, four. “Exhausted from dealing with a dysfunctional relationship. Exhausted from trying so hard to fix the mess I’d found myself in. Exhausted from constantly having the rug pulled out from beneath me. I just couldn’t do it any more.”

Sophia has never lived life in the shadows. Not yet 30, she has already made a name for herself as a model, gossip columnist, entrepreneur and, more controversially, an alcoholic. Following a spate of drink- related accidents, she finally turned her life around last year after spending two weeks in prison for drunken bail breaches. And in January this year, she bravely volunteered to be the face of a social-media campaign encouraging Kiwis to talk openly about addiction.

It seemed the former wild child had turned a corner, but this month, she was in the news again when her husband, George FM radio host Thane Kirby, announced she had upped sticks to Australia, robbing him of their two beautiful daughters. Sophia says it was a perfect storm that led to her shock departure, which came amid revelations that she’d failed to appear in court on charges of stealing a yellow and pink Christian Dior handbag, driving while disqualified and breaching a community-work order.

Even now, she’s reticent about where exactly in Australia she is living. Suffice to say she moved there because she has “dear friends” who are supportive of her and her girls, who she insists are happy and settling into life across the ditch.

Bitter break-up

Sophia’s marriage to Thane, 41, ended soon after their April 2012 wedding, which appeared in Woman’s Day. Theirs was a stormy six-year relationship that she claims was fuelled by love and hate in equal measure, and once it was over, Sophia found herself struggling to keep afloat – working hard, looking after the kids and paying off more than $80,000 of debt.

Throughout everything, she always wanted her children to have a close relationship with their father, but Sophia claims Thane has gone up to several months without seeing their girls and by the start of this year, she came to the conclusion that trying to deal with what she describes as his regular outpouring of verbal abuse – sometimes over the airwaves – was impossible.

“I have tried to be amicable, but nothing has changed,” she says. “When you are in love with someone and you have children with that person, you want it all to work. It has taken a long time to let go.”

Making it her mission to be “the best mum I can be”, Sophia says Honey (left) and Lola are happy and secure.

Then in February 2016, disaster struck for Sophia. The disqualified driver accepted a ride from her flatmate to a charity shop in Auckland, where she had 11 hours left to serve on a 60-hour community-service sentence. The car was left outside the shop for their return journey home.

“I walked in with my handbag and put it in a trolley,” recalls Sophia. “Then I realised the car was in danger of being towed. I grabbed my handbag and moved the car 100 metres. When I got back, I was accused of stealing my own handbag and the police had been informed that I had driven the car.”

When Sophia didn’t turn up for her next scheduled work day, a charge of breaching her community-service sentence was added to her list of crimes. She was due to appear in the Auckland District Court on March 9 but didn’t turn up.

Sophia explains, “I thought, ‘I’ve been doing everything I can to fix what I’ve done in the past, I’m looking after two kids on my own and I can’t make money because I’m not allowed to drive!’”

But Sophia’s primary reason for leaving New Zealand was to get away from her relationship, which she claims was turning toxic. She tells, “Thane agreed when I told him I couldn’t live in the same country as him any more and he was supportive of my idea of going to live in Australia. He only came out and said I’d taken the children without his blessing after I made it clear the relationship was over for good.

“I obviously loved that man for a long time. If he called me tomorrow and said, ‘I’m sorry – it was hard for me to deal with,’ I would work out a way for him to see the kids. It will always be an open door.”

Regarding reports that Sophia owes creditors of her liquidated food company Delivered Nutrition more than $8500, she maintains she sold the concept of the business together with the debt and is no longer responsible for the outstanding amount.

As for reports she owes two Auckland landlords over $9000 in unpaid rent and utilities, Sophia claims she’d offered to pay one of them in instalments but had been turned down. “If they were to come to me and ask me to sort it out, I would take it on the chin,” she says.

For now, Sophia is focused on starting anew with her daughters. “I’m committed to being sober and doing my very best for my kids,” she insists. “Is it heartbreaking that I can’t come home because there’s a border alert out of me? Yes, it’s horrific, but if I ended up in prison, who would look after my kids? They need me more than anything.

“My first priority in this world is to be a good mother and to make sure my children feel safe, happy and secure. That is how they feel right now.”

The model’s marriage to Thane in 2012 was short-lived. “Being on my own and being away from him gives me more strength in myself than I have ever had being alongside him.”

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