It has been three years since the mother of Kaydance Paige Etchells came forward with an emotional tale of alleged parental abduction. Now an update on the case has come.
On July 1, Saanich Police received a call from the RCMP liaison officer in London, England, advising that Lauren Etchells, her parents, Brian and Angela, along with her two children, Kaydance and Marcus, had been picked up by the States of Jersey Police and Jersey Customs and Immigration Service.
The group was spotted landing a 13-foot inflatable dinghy on the shores just south of St. Catherine, Jersey, a small island in the English Channel near Normandy, France.
The group was questioned about their plans and told officials they were going holidaying in France and decided to pop over to Jersey for a visit. None of the five passengers had passports and it quickly became apparent to officials that their story did not add up.
When the Jersey Police learned of their identities, they believed the group may have been attempting to get to the UK via Jersey in order to avoid passport control on UK soil.
The three adults — Etchells and her parents — were arrested for offences relating to child neglect and immigration. All three have pled guilty in relation to these charges and Etchells remains in custody as a result of a provisional arrest warrant for her extradition to Canada.
The two children — Kaydance and Marcus — were apprehended and have been placed in foster care while the complexities of this international investigation are worked through.
“[Kaydance] is in good health, is happy and appears to have been well cared for,” said Sgt. Julie Fast, public information officer for the Saanich Police.
Tasha Brown, Kaydance’s mother, said in a statement she’s extremely grateful to learn that Kaydance was in good health and in good care but noted she can’t celebrate 100 per cent until Kaydance is back in Canada.
Brown is spending the day with her lawyer and various agencies involved in bringing Kaydance home safely.
On Sept. 26, 2016, Brown made a desperate plea to the media to help locate Kaydance, who police say was abducted by Brown’s estranged wife, Etchells, on May 8, 2016.
Working with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and Interpol, Saanich Police have been trying to locate Etchells since 2016, when they say she fled to London.
On June 8, 2016, a Canada-wide warrant was issued for Etchells, along with red-flagging her internationally so that if caught, she would be detained for extradition.
While investigators worked on the file from their end, Brown took to social media, engaging in her own search for her daughter. Through each stream of the investigation, police learned that Etchells, along with Kaydance and Marcus, travelled from Canada to England, to France, to the Netherlands, to the Middle East and possibly to Spain and Portugal.
At some point, Etchells broke off her relationship with Marco van der Merwe and continued to move about Europe with her two children.
With the movement between countries, a ‘Red Notice’ was published by Interpol, which is essentially an international flag that the person is wanted. According to police, this flag is what brought an end to Etchells flight from justice.
The process of bringing Kaydance and Etchells back to Canada has now begun but police say it will take time.
Etchells and her parents appeared in the Jersey Magistrate’s Court where they all entered guilty pleas for their charges.
Three years have passed since Kaydance disappeared but Etchells’ and Brown’s relationship began a number of years prior.
Etchells and Brown married in August 2012, but were together for five years prior to their union, writes Brown in a GoFundMe page description.
The couple wanted to start a family and found a male donor located in Edmonton. Etchells gave birth to Kaydance in September 2014.
Brown finished her education degree in 2015 and the pair decided to start a new life in the United Arab Emirates where Brown had secured a two-year teaching contract at a private international school.
Homosexuality is illegal in the U.A.E and the couple feared persecution if both of their names appeared on Kaydance’s birth certificate. Going before the courts in March 2015, the couple had Brown’s name removed from Kaydance’s birth certificate.
Things began to change in July 2015, when the couple began to plan for a second child. Their original donor had moved away so they chose a close friend of Etchells’ to be their next donor — van der Merwe.
“By the end of July 2015 the fractures in our relationship could not be ignored anymore,” writes Brown on the GoFundMe page. The couple separated on July 31, 2015. By early August, van der Merwe had left Canada and returned to his home in Qatar.
Brown began to suspect Etchells had plans to leave Canada when she found a one-way ticket to Qatar and informed her lawyer in September 2015. Etchells was court-ordered to surrender her and Kaydance’s passports. They were also ordered to stay on Vancouver Island until a court date was scheduled.
According to the timeline on Brown’s GoFundMe page, despite Etchells being ordered to surrender their passports, she was granted renewal of her U.K. passport under the condition it be returned to her lawyer.
Etchells is alleged to have taken her renewed passport and illegally applied for a Canadian passport for Kaydance misleading the Canadian passport office and receiving a Canadian passport for Kaydance.
On May 9, 2016, a day after Etchells allegedly left the country, Brown held a regularly scheduled Skype call with Etchells and Kaydance. It was odd to Brown that Kaydance was already in her pyjamas, and that the date stamp on the Skype call said 1:30 a.m.
“[I] brushed it off as a Skype glitch and didn’t question [it],” writes Brown. “Looking back, I wish I had.”
Saanich Police withheld the release of the case to the public for more than three months for several reasons, one of which was to protect Etchells from possible prosecution of homosexuality in a Middle Eastern country.
Brown later learned that Etchells and van der Merwe were engaged. According to Saanich Police, when they finally reached van der Merwe he was not co-operative.
In an email to the Saanich News in 2016, van der Merwe said he and Etchells are not together and that she deceived him about her ability to leave Canada
“I do not know where Miss Etchells is. I do not have contact with Miss Etchells, she lied to me about being able to leave the country,” wrote van der Merwe.
– With Black Press Media files
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