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

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

The two suspects arrested south of 150 Mile House Tuesday, March 2, following a high-speed chase with the RCMP have been charged. (Will Roberts photo)
High-speed chase suspects charged, remain in custody after arrest south of Williams Lake

John Craig and Maggie M. Higgott appeared in Williams Lake Provincial Court March 4

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Many members of the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club (pictured) have teamed up with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society to host a free ski in celebration of World Water Day. (Patrick Davies photo - Black Press Media)
Conservation society, cross country ski club, celebrate World Water Day with free ski March 6

The free ski will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6 at Bull Mountain

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read