Judge to use family court to help trace missing teenager and mother


A senior judge is set to open the doors to a private family court in order enlist the public's help finding a missing teenager, social services bosses say.

Mr Justice Keehan, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court, is scheduled to make a public appeal in the hope of tracing 14-year-old Moses John - and his mother Pauline Watson, 46 - in Court 41 at the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday.

Social services staff at Northamptonshire County Council - which has responsibility for Moses' welfare - say the judge has agreed to take "the exceptional step" because of the level of concern for the teenager's well-being.

They say Moses and his mother have vanished from their home in Northamptonshire and are thought to be in London.

They say that Moses and his mother need to be found as a "matter of urgency".

They say police attempts to trace the pair have failed.

And they say Mr Justice Keehan wants journalists to attend court on Monday to publicise his appeal.

Social services staff say Moses is at the centre of private family court proceedings, although they have released no detail about the litigation.

"The police and Northamptonshire Children's Services have for some time been trying to trace Moses and his mother," said a spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council on Friday.

"As an exceptional step, and to demonstrate the level of concern for the well-being of Moses, Mr Justice Keehan proposes to make a public statement in open court on Monday."

The spokesman added: "We need assistance from the media and any other persons or organisations who may be able to help trace Moses as a matter of urgency."

Social workers say Moses and his mother went missing about a year ago.

Police say appeals and searches have revealed no trace.

But the council spokesman said an appeal was being renewed as a "matter of urgency".

He said Moses was black and about 5 ft 9 in tall.

Moses' mother is black and around 5 ft 7 in tall.

The spokesman said Moses' mother was thought to have links to areas of London including Croydon, Islington, Merton, Sutton, Southwark and Lambeth.

He urged the pair to contact police or the council.