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

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

Spectators won’t be able to enjoy Quesnel Kangaroos action like captain Alessio Tomassetti scoring a goal until at least September of 2021. (Sasha Sefter - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel Kangaroos’ CIHL championship defence on hold

The CIHL has canceled its 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 restrictions

Quesnel council has committed to considering signing on to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to developing and adopting an anti-racism strategy for the city and to conducting anti-racism sensitivity training and improving the knowledge of staff and council regarding local Indigenous culture and history. (City of Quesnel Photo)
Quesnel council commits to developing, adopting anti-racism strategy

Council will also consider signing onto the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Quesnel Search and Rescue has found a missing snowmobiler on Yanks Peak, near Wells. They are being assisted by the Wells RCMP, Wells Snowmobile Club and Central Cariboo and Prince George search and rescue teams. (Quesnel Search and Rescue)
Search and rescue crews locate missing sledder near Wells

Mike Harbek spent the night on Yanks Peak and was located by helicopter Monday afternoon

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: snowmobiler rescued, 1 still missing near Wells

As Quesnel search and rescue teams investigate Yanks Peak, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Quesnel Search and Rescue are looking for a missing snowmobiler on Yanks Peak Monday, Nov. 23. They are being assisted by the Wells RCMP, Wells Snowmobile Club and neighbouring search and rescue teams. (Quesnel Search and Rescue)
Search underway for missing snowmobiler out of Wells, Yanks Peak area

Two riders went missing while sledding on Yanks Peak Nov. 22. One is still missing.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor receives prestigious conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

Most Read