Missing children: Hunt continues for Llanelli family
- 17 October 2012
- From the section Wales
A hunt for four children who have gone missing with their Welsh mother after a judge ordered them to be returned to their father in Spain continues.
In his appeal, High Court Judge Justice Roderic Wood said Jessica, 14, Tomas, 12, Eva, nine, and David Palacin Jones, eight were "vulnerable".
They went missing from their mother Jennifer Jones's house in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, on Friday 12 October.
Their father, Tomas Palacin Cambra, lives on the Spanish island of Majorca.
The judge said the children had been with Ms Jones but should have gone back to live with their father.
"I am very concerned about the children," he said at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Tuesday.
"They must be found. I ask anyone who knows where they are or might have seen them to tell this court or the local police."
He added: "This is the second time this mother has abducted the children from Spain," he said.
"The last time she did so was in 2009."
Airports and ports have been put on standby.
Another hearing will be held before Mr Justice Roderic Wood at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday at 14:00 BST.
A close friend of Ms Jones said they were all "devastated" by the court's decision, describing it as "a desperate plight".
The friend, who did not want to be named, added that they were certain the children were not in any danger with their mother, but no-one knew where they had gone.
Lawyers representing 52-year-old Mr Palacin Cambra said Ms Jones, 46, taught English as a second language and was thought to be with her partner, John Williams.
They say Ms Jones speaks with a strong Welsh accent and is slim, about 5ft 7in (1.7m) tall and has strawberry blonde wavy hair and brown eyes.
Mr Williams is in his late 40s or 50s, is taller than Ms Jones and well-built.
Lawyers said Ms Jones, who has family in the Swansea area, could be at a port or airport.
Last week another High Court judge, Mr Justice Hedley, had decided that Ms Jones had "abducted" the children from Spain, where they were in the care of their father.
Ms Jones had been ordered to return the children to Spain by midnight on Friday 12 October but had not done so.
She had been ordered late on Friday to attend a High Court hearing in London on Monday.
"The mother came to my court yesterday and argued through her barrister that the order of Mr Justice Hedley... should be set aside," said Mr Justice Roderic Wood.
"I declined to set that order aside.
He added: "I was also concerned that the mother might abscond overnight and so I, with a heavy heart, ordered that the children were to be immediately removed from the mother's care and placed in the care of the local authority for a short period of time so that they could be returned to Spain without delay.
"When the police came to remove the children very early this morning from the mother's house in Llanelli, Wales, they found the mother and the children had gone."
He said the children were now missing.
"The mother removed them from her home in the middle of the night. Her and her children's whereabouts are unknown. I do not know the mother's intentions," he said.
Lawyers for Mr Palacin Cambra said they feared Ms Jones had gone "underground" with the four children.
They said he was "devastated" at losing his children, who are all bilingual and speak fluent Spanish as well as English with a Welsh accent.
Dyfed-Powys Police said that following the concerns raised by the judge, officers were now working with the local authority to find the children.
Carmarthenshire council's Stefan Smith, acting Head of Children's Services, said: "We are aware of the circumstances of this case and have been assisting authorities in their efforts to safely return the children to their father."
"Should anyone have any information concerning the whereabouts of the children they should contact us on 101," police said.
David Niven, a child protection expert and a former chairman of the British Association of Social Workers, said parental abduction was very common in disputes over custody battles.
He added: "But this is so desperately sad all round because nobody's going to win out of this one whatsoever, especially the children.
"There's going to be trauma, I think, suffered by these children for many, many years to come."