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

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID-19 brings burning ban to Clearwater and area

The reason for the ban is to help reduce excess air pollution in populated air-sheds

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Kamloops-Thompson teachers to connect with parents to reveal plans for remote teaching

School district also asking parents to ensure children are practicing social distancing

Interior Health issues alert following confirmed COVID-19 case on WestJet flight

The public exposure alert comes following the March 21 WestJet flight from Calgary to Kamloops

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

Most Read