B.C. mom charged with abducting child to face trial in U.K. this week

Saanich officer says Jersey crown counsel doesn’t support extraditing Lauren Etchells back to Canada

The three-year saga continues in the case of Lauren Etchells, the mother charged with abducting her own child in 2016, as she faces trial in the United Kingdom this week.

On July 4, Saanich Police shared with the public that Etchells had been arrested in Jersey, an island in the English Channel near Normandy, France. Etchells, along with her parents and two children, were spotted landing a 13-foot inflatable dinghy by a bystander who quickly called local police.

Etchells faces two counts of exposing a child to risk of harm in Jersey and has been released on bail, but according to Saanich Police Sgt. Chris Horsley, crown counsel in Jersey do not support extraditing Etchells back to Canada, meaning Canadian authorities aren’t able to take any further action. However, if Etchells ever leaves Jersey, Horsley says she would be arrested immediately.

Lauren Etchells was arrested in July, as her and her family tried to avoid passport control in the United Kingdom by going ashore in a 13-foot inflatable dinghy.

In 2016 a Canada-wide warrant for her arrest was issued, along with an Interpol Red Notice, both of which are still activate, says Horsley. The Interpol Red Notice is what ultimately lead to her arrest. When Etchells and her family came ashore, they were questioned by authorities who realized there was a world wide flag seeking her arrest.

RELATED: Hearings begin as Vancouver Island mom fights for allegedly abducted daughter

Horsley, who’s been involved in other extraditions, explains that if the process were to occur, Jersey police would transport Etchells to the airport there. The moment she steps on to an Air Canada plane, which is considered Canadian soil, the power to arrest her would kick in and she would be detained on the plane, says Horsley. Both crown counsel in Victoria and Saanich Police support her extradition and would be responsible for covering the cost of transferring her.

The investigation to locate Etchells and Kaydance, the child she shares with Tasha Brown, spanned years. Brown lives in Nanaimo but traveled to Jersey to be reunited with her daughter. Police learned that Etchells had left Canada to go to England, where her parents live, then traveled to France, to the Netherlands, to the Middle East and possibly to Spain and Portugal. Horsley says Saanich Police had to cooperate and coordinate investigation tactics with a number of police forces internationally.

The descent

Etchells and Brown married in August 2012, and wanted to start a family. The couple found a sperm donor located in Edmonton and Etchells gave birth to Kaydance in September 2014.

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, Marco van der Merwe.

Kaydance, the child Lauren Etchells has been charged with abducting from Canada.

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.

RELATED: WATCH: Mom thrilled after abducted Saanich toddler located in Europe three years later

“[I] brushed it off as a Skype glitch and didn’t question [it],” writes Brown in a GoFundMe page. “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 for 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. Horsley says he has been cleared of any connection to Kaydance’s abduction and was not involved with Etchells when she was arrested in Jersey.

Avoiding arrest

Horsley says Etchells clearly knew police were looking for her and took a number of steps to avoid being found, specifically avoiding passport control. Etchells has dual citizenship and police had to make sure she didn’t obtain another passport, even going so far to check out health care facilities in hopes that she would have taken her children there for medical care.

Through times of frustration, Horsley says police never lost hope they would eventually find her. Throughout the investigation a number of tips from different countries came in, but it was never enough to identify her location.

“It’s not as hard as you think to go off the grid and not be found,” he says. “And so there was certainly a level of frustration, but never a lack of hope.”



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley wheelchair sports all about inclusion

By Jamie Bowman Special to The Record When occupational therapist Carolyn Harmatiuk… Continue reading

Comox Valley Community Foundation hands out record amount of grant money

The Comox Community Centre the foundation handed out $330,000 to local organizations Tuesday.

Comox Valley school district planning Climate Action Conference for students

The voices of Comox Valley youth on the topic of climate change… Continue reading

Funder for Down Under in Courtenay raises thousands for Australia

Organizers still tallying up proceeds but expect to donate at least $8,000

Fourteen Comox Valley kids get bikes through Share the Ride

Several businesses combine efforts to get bikes and other cycling gear

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Thieves are targetting Comox Valley strata storage units

Criminals in the Comox Valley have been targeting storage units at condominium… Continue reading

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

B.C. asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ when screening for coronavirus

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Most Read