Judge begins hunt for four children missing from Llanelli

A photo issued of David, Eva, Jessica and Tomas Palacin Jones
Image caption A photo issued of David, Eva, Jessica and Tomas Palacin Jones

A High Court judge has launched a nationwide hunt for four missing children, aged between eight and 14.

Mr Justice Roderic Wood said Jessica, 14, Tomas, 12, Eva, nine, and David Palacin Jones, eight, were thought to be with their mother, Jennifer Jones.

He said the children had gone missing from Ms Jones's house in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, and "must be found".

They are part of a legal dispute between Ms Jones and her estranged Spanish husband, Tomas Palacin Cambra.

The judge said the children had been with Ms Jones but should have been returned to their father on the Spanish island of Majorca.

He described the children, who lived with their father, as "vulnerable".

"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."

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.

'Heavy heart'

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.

Dyfed-Powys Police said that following the concerns raised by the judge, officers were now working with the local authority to find the children.

"Should anyone have any information concerning the whereabouts of the children they should contact us on 101," police said.