30 Aug 2014

Arrest warrant issued for parents of brain tumour boy

Police think five-year-old Ashya King may have been taken to Spain by his parents, but say they would rather they came forward voluntarily.

Hampshire police said on Saturday morning they had received information that gave them “greater confidence” that the boy’s family have strong links to the Marbella area, “and that they may be travelling there”.

Police have now obtained a European arrest warrant, but said they would “much sooner they come to us” than arrest the parents.

“We don’t want the family to be put off by the fact that there is an arrest warrant, we would much sooner them come to us, we’d much rather they speak to us and get Aysha the care he desperately needs,” said a spokesman for Hampshire police.

Time is running out for this little boy Police spokesman

He said the basis for the warrant was “based around neglect”, but added: “That does not necessarily mean they would be charged with that offence – it purely gives us the power to arrest, and then we will be able to speak to them.”

Ashya’s family took him from Southampton general hospital at around 2pm on Thursday and travelled on a ferry to France some two hours later.

Hampshire police said they were told by the hospital that the youngster was missing at 8.35pm – more than six hours after he had been taken by his parents, Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45.

The family were travelling in a grey Hyundai I800 Style CRDI, registration KP60 HWK, and were thought by police to be in Spain after arriving in France at 8pm local time on Friday.

Police said they were working closely with Spanish authorities to find Ashya and may send officers to Spain and France to help in the search.

The operation widended on Friday as Interpol sent out a missing persons alert to all of its 190 member countries.

Police have released an image of Ashya being wheeled out of Southampton general hospital by his father on Thursday, as well as pictures of his parents and the type of vehicle they used to flee the UK.

The family are believed to be Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Deteriorating health

Speaking at a press conference, Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead said: “It is vital that we find Ashya today. His health will deteriorate rapidly.”

He added: “Ashya is in a wheelchair and is fed through a tube. The feeding system is battery operated and that battery will run out today. Time is running out for this little boy. We need to find him and we need to find him urgently.”

Mr Shead said Ashya had undergone “extensive surgery” and his last operation was seven days ago.

“The information we have received from his medical team at Southampton general hospital is that he must continue to be fed via a tube by someone with the relevant medical training,” he said.

“If he doesn’t receive urgent medical care, or the wrong treatment is given, his condition will become life-threatening.”

Mr Shead said the six-and-a-half-hour gap between Ashya being taken from hospital and police being called would be considered “further down the line”.

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said Ashya was allowed to leave the ward under his parents’ supervision and hospital staff raised the alarm when the length of his absence “became a cause of concern”.

‘Wonderful parents’

Ashya’s paternal grandmother on Friday said his parents are “wonderful” and have been left beside themselves at their son’s plight. Patricia King said news that her son, Brett, and his wife, Naghemeh, had sailed on a cross-Channel ferry to France with their seven children had come as a shock.

She said she knew Ashya was seriously ill but she had heard no discussion about the couple taking him from hospital and going abroad.

Speaking from her home in Southsea, she said of her son: “He’s the most caring and wonderful father you could ever have. The kids love him.”

Asked about the motive for wanting to take Ashya from hospital, she said: “I don’t know. It has never been discussed.

“I don’t know anything about it. The last thing I heard was later on the hospital said that he would have to have more treatment.”

Ms King said she last spoke to her son “quite a while ago”, adding: “He wouldn’t have told me anything because he wouldn’t want me to know anything in case I got involved in it all.”

She said she could not confirm whether Ashya’s illness was terminal, saying: “I knew he was seriously ill, we all knew that.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses

The Office of Public Information for Jehovah’s Witnesses confirmed on Friday that Ashya’s parents were followers of the religious movement.

Although Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds, a spokesman said there was “absolutely no indication” that the family’s decision was “motivated by any religious convictions”.

“We are not aware of the facts of the case nor the reasons for the family’s medical choices, which are personal decisions,” said the spokesman.

“There is absolutely no indication, as far as we are aware, that their decision is in any way motivated by any religious convictions. Jehovah’s Witnesses are encouraged to seek the best medical treatment for themselves and their children.”

YouTube videos

A YouTube video posted by Ashya King’s brother Naveed showed the five-year-old recovering in hospital from surgery on a brain tumour.

In one of the videos he describes the moment he finds out his brother had cancer: “Last night you were diagnosed with cancer. They’ve had to do an emergency operation on your brain. Today, Dad came back and said that you are going to have an emergency operation in the next 10-15 minutes. I just want to say that we love you so much.”

On Monday, Naveed posted on Facebook: “Ashya has been progressing slowly but continuously with only minor problems along the way. He is now able to swallow (only liquid things like water and on odd occasions soft yoghurt) but not chew or move his leaps.

“He can also close his eye lids but still struggles in moving his eyes to look at people or things. He is still unable to talk to explain how he feels or what may be hurting him on occasions.”

Anyone with information about Ashya’s whereabouts should contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101, quoting Operation Aquilion.