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High Court judge: Help find missing girl, three, from Barking and Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 10:02 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:02 09 November 2017

Elliana Shand, also known as Elliana Richards, who turns four next month, is believed to be in the UK with her mum Jessica Richards. Picture: Family handout/PA Wire

Elliana Shand, also known as Elliana Richards, who turns four next month, is believed to be in the UK with her mum Jessica Richards. Picture: Family handout/PA Wire

A three-year-old girl who has gone missing with her mum faces a “real risk to her safety” unless she is found, a High Court judge has said.

Mr Justice Hayden has asked for the public’s help in finding Elliana Shand, also known as Elliana Richards.

The little girl, who turns four next month, is believed is believed to be in the UK with Jessica Richards, who has schizophrenia.

Mr Justice Hayden said that he was “very concerned indeed” for Elliana’s safety.

“In optimum circumstances, the mother’s capacity to meet her daughter’s needs was barely satisfactory,” he said.

“But, it is abundantly clear that under stress, perhaps not taking her anti-psychotic medicine, perhaps in the grip of auditory commands which are hallucinatory, she poses, despite her love for her daughter, a very real risk to her safety.”

The judge said that, in May, Barking and Dagenham Council concluded that Elliana’s placement with her mother no longer provided her with the essential safety and security that she needed and was her right.

During court proceedings, which were likely to see Elliana taken into care, her maternal grandmother, Sharon Shand, also known as Richards, took Elliana to Jamaica to spend time together on a “farewell final holiday”.

Mrs Shand maintained that she handed the little girl over to her mother when they flew back in September and did not know where they are now.

The judge said his assessment of the family was that Mrs Shand would not let Jessica, who also has severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Elliana out of her sight for one minute more than was necessary.

He said: “I have utterly no doubt that she is in contact with her daughter and, almost certainly, her granddaughter.”

The judge said the “very significant” risk which Jessica posed to her child was one that Mrs Shand was unable to accept or acknowledge.

It was very clear that, for all her difficulties, Jessica Richards had a warm and affectionate relationship with Elliana and Mrs Shand was similarly close to the child, he added.

“This is a very much loved little girl,” he said. “In that she is immensely fortunate.”

He said it was easy to see from Elliana’s photo why Mrs Shand was so proud of her.

“She is a strikingly beautiful little girl”.

He said he hoped that putting the information into the public domain would facilitate the return of Elliana to “circumstances where she is safe”.

The council’s plan was for Elliana to live with her paternal relatives.

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