Hunt for British mother who fled to Spain with son

24th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

24 February 2005, LONDON- A British mother has snatched her four-year-old son from his businessman father and is feared to have fled to Spain in a bitter tug-of-love battle.

24 February 2005

LONDON- A British mother has snatched her four-year-old son from his businessman father and is feared to have fled to Spain in a bitter tug-of-love battle.

Joel Rathbone disappeared with his mother Lorraine 13 days ago, the day before he was supposed to be passed into the custody of his father Steven on Valentine's Day.

Spanish police have been alerted about the case.

Joel Rathbone's father, 40, made a tearful appeal to his wife: "Please, please ring me and bring little Joel back." he said.

"I am exhausted and at breaking point. My son and I need each other like we need air to breathe. Please bring him back."

The Child Protection Agency in Britain said there is an ongoing investigation and that their "prime concern is the welfare of the boy".

Meanwhile, sources said they believe Mrs Rathbone has fled to Spain after having a duplicate passport issued for Joel.

Last month Epsom County Court, in southern England, gave the couple shared custody over Joel, allowing him to spend weekdays with his father and weekends with his mother.

Mr Rathbone said: "I know Lorraine loves Joel and I have never spoken badly of her to him. But she is out of control and trying to take away the biggest thing in my life. Joel has never been away from my side for more than three days in his life and I know he is going to be asking 'Where's dad?'

"I am his buddy, his pal and we do everything together. Anything I do he will mimic. If I wear a blue Tshirt he wants to wear a blue T-shirt. If I wind the window down in the car he does the same. He is my life and I am his. Now I can barely look at a photo of him because it upsets me too much."

Mr Rathbone was due to collect Joel from a nursery after he had spent the weekend with Mrs Rathbone. But staff said the child had not been taken to the nursery by her that day.

British police believe the mother and son disappeared three days earlier.

Mr Rathbone has Joel's passport, but officers have discovered Mrs Rathbone, 34, had a new one issued in the St James's Petit France office after claiming the old one had been lost.

They are investigating claims she has gone to Spain, which she visited over Christmas and where her parents and Joel's godparents have a holiday home.

"When I realised what had happened I went cold," said Mr Rathbone. "I have hardly slept since and I am at breaking point - but I want to stay strong for Joel."

After five years of marriage, Mr Rathbone filed for divorce in March 2004 on the grounds of adultery after his wife had an alleged affair with one of his employees.

They have been to court seven times in a bitter divorce battle - during which time Mr Rathbone says his construction company has gone out of business and he has been forced to sell the GBP 500,000 family home in Surrey, southern England. He now lives with his parents.

"She has destroyed me in every way," he said. "I have put everything into keeping Joel. I've lost my company, lost my home, my wife, and now the one thing left in my life has gone too. It has gone too far. This is inhumane."

Mrs Rathbone's family members were not available for comment. Her solicitor said they had not received any instruction from her in the past 13 days.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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