Saanich mother accused of fleeing to U.K. with daughter has abduction charges dropped

Saanich mother accused of fleeing to U.K. with daughter has abduction charges dropped

After a massive search spanning years and stretching across the globe, charges against the Saanich mother accused of abducting her child in 2016 have been dropped.

“The charges against Ms. Etchells were stayed on June 14, 2023 when the Crown Counsel with conduct of the matter concluded that the charge assessment standard was no longer met.” Dan McLaughlin with BC’s Prosecution Service said.

In 2016, 19-month-old Kaydence, daughter of Tasha Brown and Lauren Etchells disappeared from Saanich. Three years later, when Kaydence was four, she was found in Europe with Etchells.

“Over the course of these past three years we’ve tracked them through multiple countries over in Europe,” Sgt. Julie Fast from Saanich Police told CHEK News in 2019.

Etchells, Brown’s estranged wife, had left Canada with Kaydence, thereby violating a court order by travelling to France, the Netherlands, the Middle East, Spain, and Portugal before crossing the English Channel in a 13-foot inflatable dinghy to the island of Jersey in July of 2019.

As of Wednesday, a possible end to the multi-year saga was filed to Victoria’s courthouse, with crown counsel choosing to drop the child abduction charges against Etchells.

A stay of proceedings is the mechanism by which crown council will discontinue a criminal prosecution,” criminal lawyer Michael Mulligan told CHEK News.

BC’s Prosecution Service filed the stay by letter, saying only that “the charge assessment standard was no longer met,” meaning either crown couldn’t meet the conditions of a confident conviction, or that the case no longer served public interest.

“They’re going to take a pretty expansive view of all of the factors involved in the case, including that the mother had already been convicted and sentenced in Jersey for endangering the children. The fact that several years have passed since these events might have been a factor as well,” said Mulligan.

There’s also the issue of extradition. Etchells was found and arrested in Jersey, a self-governing island with no extradition agreement with Canada.

“It’s a really unique case,” said Mulligan. “If she tried to enter another European country with extradition agreements with Canada, she could be subject to arrest and extradited to Canada to face charges for taking the child contrary to the court order.”

Friday, the Department of Justice Canada told CHEK News Etchells was discharged from the extradition proceedings in the United Kingdom on May 17, 2023 because the charge she was facing in Canada isn’t criminal in the U.K.

“This was on the basis that the United Kingdom had determined none of the offences in Canada amounted to offences under English law. In order for an individual to be extradited, the offence(s) for which extradition is sought must be criminal in both countries. This is known as dual criminality. In the case of Ms. Etchells, dual criminality was not met,” said Aurora Chiu, media relations for the Department of Justice Canada.

Then there’s the family law perspective to factor in. Mulligan said what’s best for the child, not the parent, trumps everything.

CHEK News reached out to Brown and her lawyer for comment but received no response.

Crown can technically restart the prosecution within a year, but for now, it seems the issue has been dropped.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!