Missing four-year-old British girl found with mother in Spain

Nicola Slawson
Elliana Shand has been found safe in Spain. Photograph: PA

A four-year-old girl who went missing with her mother has been found safe and well in Spain, a high court judge has said.

Elliana Shand, also known as Elliana Richards, who has been missing with her mother, Jessica Richards, since last summer, is the subject of care proceedings.

At a hearing in the family division of the high court in London on Friday, Mr Justice Hayden said the girl was found by police in Spain on Thursday.

He also indicated that plans were in place to return Elliana to England in the next few days.

After the hearing, Eileen Doyle, her paternal grandmother, said she and her husband Sean were “over the moon”.

The judge had praised the couple, whose son Craig is Elliana’s father, for the efforts they had made to trace their granddaughter. He also praised the work of British and Spanish police and Foreign Office staff.

Elliana disappeared from her London home with her mother, who has mental health problems, after social services staff at Barking and Dagenham council intervened.

Hayden had made a number of appeals for information on the mother and daughter’s whereabouts.

In a unusual move for care proceedings, Hayden had ruled that detail of the case could be made public and pictures of Elliana and her mother were released to the media.

In December he urged anyone with information about Elliana to call police immediately. At the time he said: “I am very concerned indeed about Elliana and her mother. It is imperative that they are found so that we can be sure they are safe.”


Her paternal grandfather, a Liverpool fan who campaigns for victims of the Hillsborough disaster, had also begged for help.

He said: “Please think if you have seen them. We know Jessica loves Elliana to bits. But Jessica is schizophrenic and Elliana is very small. They must be somewhere. Someone must have seen them. They both need help.”

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