Missing girl, 3, at risk in care of schizophrenic mother, judge warns

8 November 2017, 21:14

A High Court judge has asked for help from the public in finding a child who has gone missing with her schizophrenic mother.

Three-year-old Elliana Shand, also known as Elliana Richards, is believed to be in the UK with her mother Jessica Richards.

But Mr Justice Hayden said he was "very concerned indeed" for Elliana's safety.

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham concluded in May taht Elliana would not be provided with the essential safety and security that she needed and was her right if she were to stay in the care of her mother.

The judge said: "In optimum circumstances, the mother's capacity to meet her daughter's needs was barely satisfactory.

"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."

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

During court proceedings which were likely to result in the child being taken into care, her maternal grandmother, Sharon Shand, also known as Richards, took Elliana to Jamaica for a "farewell final holiday" so that they could spend time together.

Mrs Shand says she handed Elliana over to Jessica on her return to the UK in September and does not know where they are now, but the judge says he has no doubt she is in contact with them.

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

"I have utterly no doubt that she is in contact with her daughter and, almost certainly, her granddaughter."

The judge said Mrs Shand was unable to accept or acknowledge the "very significant" risk that her daughter posed to Elliana.

He said it was clear that the woman had a warm and affectionate relationship with her daughter despite her difficulties, and that Mrs Shand was also very close to her.

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

The local authority's plan was for Elliana to stay within her family with her father's side.