Kaydance, now 4, was found Monday by police on a small island in the English Channel.
SAANICH — A four-year-old girl from Vancouver Island has been found on a small island off the coast of England after allegedly being abducted by her mother more than three years ago, police said Thursday.
Police in Saanich said Lauren Etchells boarded a flight leaving Canada in 2016 with her young daughter Kaydance, her new partner Marco van der Merwe, and their newborn son, in violation of a court order.
Tasha Brown, Kaydance’s other mother, contacted police who say they learned that Etchells travelled with the children throughout Europe and the Middle East, and at some point broke off her relationship with van der Merwe.
Interpol published a red notice — an international flag that a person is wanted — and Saanich police received a call on Monday advising that Etchells, her son, Kaydance, and Etchells’ parents had been picked up by police.
Police said the group was spotted landing a four-metre inflatable dinghy on the shore just south of St. Catherine in Jersey, a small island in the English Channel, and officers believed they were trying to avoid passport control on U.K. soil.
Etchells and her parents pleaded guilty to offences in Jersey and Etchells remained in custody as a result of a provisional arrest warrant for her extradition to Canada, Saanich police said in a news release.
Jersey police said in a statement that a 33-year-old woman had pleaded guilty to child neglect and immigration offences, and that a man and woman, both 67, had pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting as well as immigration offences.
The two children have been placed in foster care and the process of bringing the girl back to Canada has begun, police said.
“We are extremely pleased to report that four-year-old Kaydance has been located and is in the care of the appropriate authorities in Jersey. She is in good health, is happy and appears to have been well cared for,” said Sgt. Julie Fast of Saanich police said in the news release.
Etchells has previously denied abducting her daughter, telling the Victoria Times Colonist in 2016 that Brown is not legally a parent to Kaydance.
She said they conceived Kaydance through a sperm donor and Brown’s name was taken off the birth certificate when the two were planning a move to Qatar, where same-sex marriage is illegal.
The two married in 2012 and separated in 2015, and Etchells said she was given full custody but Brown was fighting for equal custody rights. She said in 2016 she feared that if she returned to Canada, Kaydance and her son would be put in foster care.
“I am a good mother who has done nothing but love and care for her children and it would not be in either of my children’s best interests for me to be separated from them,” she told the newspaper in 2016.
Van der Merwe also told the newspaper earlier that year that when he boarded the flight in 2016 he did not know Etchells and Kaydance were barred from leaving Canada.
Brown said in a statement released by Saanich police on Thursday that she is grateful to learn that Kaydance is in good health and good care.
“I am celebrating today,” Brown said, adding that she is meeting with her lawyer and other agencies to bring the child to Canada.
“But I can’t celebrate 100 per cent yet. Not until Kaydance is back in Canada.”