Barking mum ‘sorry’ for disappearing with daughter during court dispute

Elliana Shand, four, has been found safe and well Picture: Family handout/PA Wire

Elliana Shand, four, has been found safe and well Picture: Family handout/PA Wire - Credit: Archant

A woman who disappeared to Spain with her young daughter after being entangled in a legal battle with social workers has apologised to a High Court judge.

Jessica Richards, who is in her 20s and from Barking, took her daughter Elliana Shand abroad last summer amid concerns raised by social services about the child’s care.

Elliana, now four, was found safe and well by Spanish police following public appeals for help by Mr Justice Hayden, who oversaw the case at hearings in the Family Division of the High Court.

Richards told the judge at a hearing on Friday she was “sorry for what happened”, adding: “I know what I did was wrong.”

Another judge had sentenced Richards to six months in jail in her absence after ruling she breached orders relating to Elliana and was in contempt of court.

Mr Justice Hayden heard Richards was arrested on returning to London early last month, ruling she had “purged” her contempt and should be released from prison.

Elliana now lives with relatives.

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Plans were in place to allow Richards to stay in contact with her daughter, lawyers representing social workers told the judge.

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