Missing Barking girl Elliana Shand, four, found safe and well in Spain
PUBLISHED: 17:06 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:39 12 January 2018
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A four-year-old girl from Barking who went missing with her mum during the summer has been found in Spain.
High Court judge Mr Justice Hayden said at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, that Elliana Shand was safe and well.
The judge had made a number of public appeals for help after Elliana and her mother Jessica Richards, who is in her mid 20s, disappeared.
Last month, Mr Justice Hayden had made a direct appeal to expats and British tourists after saying there was evidence to suggest that Elliana and her mother, who has schizophrenia, were in Spain.
He said both had been found in Spain by Spanish police yesterday.
The judge praised the work of British and Spanish police and Foreign Office staff.
He also praised Elliana’s paternal grandparents, Sean and Eileen Doyle, who live in Wembley, for the efforts they had made to trace the girl.
Shortly before Christmas, the couple had made a public appeal for help in finding Elliana, saying she and Jessica needed to be found as “a matter of urgency”.
Speaking to the Post after today’s hearing, Sean said that it was “great news”.
He said: “We had a court date, and we thought it was just going to be paperwork.
“We didn’t think this was going to happen.
“The court was adjourned and three hours later, we were told she was in the custody of social services.”
He added that his wife was planning to fly out to Spain with social services on Sunday so that Elliana “had a friendly face” and that they would hopefully be returining to England early next week.
But he added: “We don’t know what’s going to happen to Jessica, whether she’s going to get help in Spain or here.”
Elliana had been at the centre of private family court litigation.
She had disappeared from her home with her mother, also known as Jessica Shand, after social services staff at Barking and Dagenham Council intervened.