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Kidnapped sisters flown home from Morocco
From The Times
Two sisters were reunited with their grandmother yesterday four months after allegedly being kidnapped from their home in Blackpool and taken to North Africa.
Carene and Shelby Crofts, aged 12 and 11, had been the subject of international negotiations since being discovered in the care of strangers in Fez, Morocco. British consular officials brokered a deal for their return home but it collapsed.
Their ordeal apparently ended when Carene fled the house during an argument and ran into the arms of English-speaking neighbours. The police were called and the children were taken into care, allowing the British Consul to rule that they were abandoned and eligible for repatriation.
The sisters were put on a plane in Morocco yesterday and flew into Heathrow at teatime to be greeted by their grandmother. Rita Astbury, 54, who lives in Blackpool, said: “It is the end of what seemed like a never-ending nightmare. . . It has been very frustrating that the law, the Government and the police all seemed unable to act. It took a 12-year-old girl to cut through the red tape.Thank God we will be able to enjoy a happy Christmas with them back where they belong. I am so proud of Carene and Shelby for the way they have stood up to this. They have been through a terrible time. They were tearful but glad to be coming home.”
The girls had been missing since August when their mother, Trudy Crofts, 32, who lost custody of her daughters seven years ago, allegedly seized them during a routine access visit and took them out of the country. It is thought that she took them first to Spain and then to Morocco, where they were left with her boyfriend’s family in Fez.
Despite efforts to repatriate them they remained there until an argument over a television programme led to Carene being chased around the house and into the street by a man brandishing a slipper.
The girls were given residence with Mrs Astbury in 2002 because her daughter had been “struggling to cope”. Since then Ms Crofts has lost three cases regarding residence.
At the time Mrs Astbury said: “She wants to start a new life as a Muslim. She had the kids in long clothes with wraps around them and said she had taken them to the mosque.”
Ms Crofts, whose daughters have different fathers, was arrested by the Spanish authorities and held in Madrid before being extradicted.
The first comment has this mother taped as a proper dozy bint and no mistake.