Lauren Etchells

Lauren Etchells

Mother who fled Canada fears return would jeopardize daughter’s safety

Lauren Etchells cites concerns her two-year-old will be put into foster care if she returns to Canada

Lauren Etchells – the woman facing a charge of parental child abduction for fleeing Canada with her two-year-old – is refusing to turn herself in for fear of her daughter’s safety, according to a letter to a local newspaper.

Etchells, 31, reportedly sent a lengthy letter to the Times Colonist detailing her ongoing custody battle with her estranged wife Tasha Brown over their daughter Kaydance since their separation in July 2015. In May, Etchells boarded a flight to her home country of England with Kaydance, as well as her new partner Marco van der Merwe and their newborn son Marcus.

She noted in the letter that if she returns to Canada, she fears both Kaydance and Marcus will be put into foster care.

“I am a good mother who has done nothing but love and care for her children and it would not be in either of my children’s best interests for me to be separated from them,” she wrote to the Times Colonist.

However, Saanich Police media spokesperson Acting Sgt. Jereme Leslie said Etchells never expressed safety concerns for Kaydance to any police agency, and that a number of allegations she made before the Supreme Court were rejected.

“There’s been no such reports of any sort of worries or concerns that Lauren or anyone else has made about Kaydance at all with safety issues,” said Leslie. “She has made some claims to the courts through the child custody battle and the Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed the allegations completely.”

In the letter, Etchells also denied that she kidnapped her child, noting Brown’s name was removed from Kaydance’s birth certificate prior to her flight. Before they separated, Brown and Etchells had planned to move to the United Arab Emirates, where same-sex marriage is illegal, prompting them to request the removal.

“At the time of my departure, I was not guilty of parental child abduction because I was the only legal parent to Kaydance,” wrote Etchells. “Important, though, is that I didn’t kidnap my child.”

Furthermore, in an email to the Saanich News, van der Merwe said he and Etchells are not together and that she deceived him about her ability to leave Canada. According to the timeline on Brown’s GoFundMe, Etchells was ordered to surrender her and Kaydance’s passports last August until their divorce hearing, but was granted renewal of her U.K. passport under the condition it be returned to her lawyer’s safe.

Etchells is alleged to have taken her renewed passport and illegally applied for a Canadian passport for Kaydance.

“I do not know where Miss Etchells is. I do not have contact with Miss Etchells, she lied to me about being able to leave the country,” wrote van der Merwe.

Anyone with information that may assist in Kaydance’s return is asked to contact the Saanich Police Information Line at 1-888-980-1919 or the Canadian Centre for Child Protection at 1-866-543-8477.

To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477.

jacob.zinn@saanichnews.com