Jersey authorities won't extradite mom wanted in parental abduction case: Saanich police

Almost two months after Nanaimo woman Tasha Brown learned that her missing daughter had been found in Jersey, she seems no closer to having the four-year-old back with her.

Brown had not seen daughter Kaydance since May 7, 2016, the day before her former partner Lauren Etchells left the country with the girl on a flight from Vancouver to England, violating a court order. Etchells was with her new partner, Marco van der Merwe, and the couple’s infant son.

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“Nothing has changed from our end of things in Canada,” said Saanich police Sgt. Julie Fast. “What’s happened is Jersey has not recognized the parental abduction.”

Brown said in July that she had been told that while same-sex marriage is legal in Jersey, an island in the English Channel, the law does not refer to same-sex parents.

“Therefore, strictly speaking,” she told CHEK News, “I may not fall within the definition of parent in Jersey.”

On July 1, Etchells landed on Jersey in an inflatable dinghy carrying her parents, her son and Kaydance. Claims that they were travelling to the island after a holiday in France fell apart because no one had a passport.

Etchells and her parents were arrested and the children were temporarily placed in foster care. She was released on bail after pleading guilty to charges that include child endangerment and passport offences.

Brown is now in Jersey, but Fast said she does not know whether she has been able to see the child.

“I understand that Kaydance has been returned to the grandparents,” Fast said.

Brown and Etchells were married in August 2012, and Etchells gave birth to Kaydance in September 2014 after using a sperm donor. The couple separated in July 2015. Etchells was given full custody, but Brown was working to get equal custody.

Brown’s name was taken off Kaydance’s birth certificate when she and Etchells were planning to move to Qatar, where same-sex marriage is not legal.

In a 2016 letter to the Times Colonist, Etchells said she did not kidnap Kaydance since she had full custody of her.

Fast said because Jersey does not recognize the parental abduction, authorities do not recognize what happened with Kaydance as an indictable offence “and therefore are not extraditing her.”

But Canada-wide warrants remain in place, she said, and Etchells is “flagged” as a wanted person by Interpol.

“So if she leaves Jersey, even if she flies into the U.K., she could get stopped at the border on U.K. soil,” Fast said. “They could re-arrest her on the strength of our Canada-wide warrants, and they could extradite her.”

Still, there is only so much that can be done, she said. “It’s completely out of our jurisdiction.”

Saanich police became involved because the alleged abduction took place in Saanich.

Fast said the case has become “a really complicated scenario.”

“We couldn’t have predicted this.”

Brown expressed her thanks to supporters this month in a Facebook post.

“I am so grateful for the love you have all given, and for the continued help from our community,” she said.

“There is no way I could have made it this far without all of you. Endless thanks!”

A Thursday burger-and-beer fundraising event for Brown at Miller’s Pub has been organized by friend Amber Tanti, beginning at 5 p.m. Brown is planning to appear via Skype.

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