The mother of a Vancouver Island girl who was allegedly abducted by her ex-wife is speaking out for the first time since the girl was located.
Four-year-old Kaydance Etchells, was found by police on the island of Jersey in the British Channel on Canada Day with her other mother, Lauren Etchells, Etchells’ other son, and Etchells’ parents.
In 2016, Etchells is alleged to have lied to passport officials and to have fled to Canada with the girl in defiance of a court order, after a separation with her wife Tasha Brown, who was working towards joint custody.
According to police, Etchells and her family members had travelled 22 kilometres to Jersey from France by inflatable dinghy, and were suspected of trying to enter the UK by dodging passport controls.
“Three years ago, when I first made my plea to help find my daughter, I would have never imagined that Kaydance would have been found in such a way,” said a tearful Brown on Tuesday.
“I crumbled to the ground as [police] relayed the details to me. It was surreal and I thought, ‘My God, this could have been a whole other heartbreak of a story.’”
Brown said she is now working with Global Affairs Canada and a lawyer in Jersey in order to try and return Kaydance to Canada.
She said that will involve collecting Canadian legal documentation relating to her case, and presenting it at a Hague Convention hearing in Jersey.
However, she said there is no guarantee Jersey’s laws will recognize her as Kaydance’s parent, owing to the island’s antiquated parenting laws and her former same sex marriage.
“There are no words that I know of that can truly describe the magnitude of feelings and emotions that this news has evoked,” Brown said.
“Obviously I’m happy and overjoyed and elated, amazed, surprised, relieved grateful… But there’s a lot more to this story that has and will continue to deeply affect us all.”
Brown’s lawyer Elisabeth Strain said her client has a strong case, with legal documentation showing that Etchells was both barred from leaving Vancouver Island with Kaydance, or from getting her a passport.
She said the BC Supreme Court has ruled that the child’s habitual residence is in Canada, and that Brown has been a guardian of Kaydance since birth.
She said there is also a restraining order in place against Etchells, along with Canadian and Interpol abduction charges pending against her.
“My understanding is that the Canadian government is also seeking an extradition order for her to be returned to stand trial on those criminal offences in Canada.”
Etchells and her two parents were arrested for alleged immigration and child neglect offences, in Jersey, according to police.
The trio pleaded guilty, and Etchells remains in custody on an arrest warrant for extradition to Canada.
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