Judge's plea for help from Britons in Spain amid concern over missing girl

A High Court judge who says he is "very concerned indeed" about a four-year-old girl missing with her schizophrenic mother has appealed for help from Britons spending the Christmas holiday in Spain.

Mr Justice Hayden says there is evidence to suggest that Elliana Shand and 26-year-old Jessica Richards are now in Alicante on the Costa Blanca.

He has authorised the release of photographs and has urged ex-pats and British tourists to raise the alarm immediately if they think they have any information.

Elliana, who has been at the centre of private family court litigation, and her mother disappeared from their London home during the summer after social services staff at Barking and Dagenham Council raised concern about the youngster's welfare.

Mr Justice Hayden is overseeing Elliana's case at hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

He appealed for help finding the pair in November.

Elliana Shand
Elliana Shand

Earlier this month Elliana's grandfather, Sean Doyle, whose son Craig, 29, of Southend, Essex, is Elliana's father, made another appeal.

Now the judge has renewed pleas for help after investigators told him that there was evidence to suggest that Elliana has been taken to Alicante.

"I am very concerned indeed about Elliana and her mother," said Mr Justice Hayden.

"I would urge anyone living in Alicante or visiting the area for Christmas to keep their eyes open.

"Please study their photographs and think very carefully whether you have seen them.

"You might have seen Jessica in a shop, they might have seen Elliana out playing, they might have seen them on the beach or in a fast-food restaurant."

He added: "It is imperative that they are found so that we can be sure they are safe."

Elliana is thought to have been abducted by her mother following intervention by social workers and in breach of a judge's order.

Last week Mr Doyle, a Liverpool fan who campaigns for victims of the Hillsborough disaster, begged people for help.

"Please think if you have seen them," said Mr Doyle, 51, who comes Liverpool but now lives with wife Eileen, 52, in the Wembley area of London.

"We know Jessica loves Elliana to bits. But Jessica is schizophrenic and Elliana is very small.

"They must be somewhere. Someone must have seen them.They both need help."