Missing five-year-old boy found in Spain with parents

Sunday 31 August 2014 09.00
A European arrest warrant had been issued for Mr and Ms King
A European arrest warrant had been issued for Mr and Ms King

A five-year-old boy with a brain tumour who was taken by his parents from hospital against medical advice has been found in Spain, police have said.

Ashya King's family took him from Southampton General Hospital on Thursday afternoon and travelled on a ferry to France some two hours later.

Hampshire Constabulary tonight said the seriously ill youngster has been found in Spain with his parents, Jehovah's Witnesses Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45.

On its Facebook page, the force said: "Ashya has been found. He is in Spain with his mum and dad.

"Police are speaking to his mum and dad and we are waiting to hear on Ashya's condition."

A European arrest warrant had been issued for Ashya's parents after Interpol had sent out a missing persons alert to each of its 190 member countries.

Police had said "time was running out" for the youngster as the battery on his feeding system expired.

Earlier, Hampshire Constabulary Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead said the arrest 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'll be able to speak to them."

Police believed the family had travelled to Spain after revealing they had "strong links" to Marbella, where they have an apartment.

The Kings boarded a cross-Channel ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg with Ashya's six siblings at 4pm on Thursday and arrived in France at 8pm local time.

Police were alerted more than six-and-a-half hours later - sparking a major international search.

A number of sightings were reported of the family, from Southsea, who were travelling in a grey Hyundai van.

In a video blog posted on YouTube by Ashya's brother Naveed, their father said Ashya was doing well and explained that the family had decided to take him out of hospital to seek a cancer treatment not available on the National Health Service.

Sitting on a bed with Ashya in his arms, Mr King said: "We were most disturbed today to find that his face is all over the internet and newspapers and we have been labelled as kidnappers putting his life at risk, neglect."

Mr King said there had been "a lot of talk" about the machine used to feed Ashya and whether they could make it work.

Police had warned that the family might not be able to work the machine and that it would run out of battery.

"As you can see there's nothing wrong with him, he is very happy actually since we took him out of hospital," Mr King said.

"He has been smiling a lot more, he has very much been interacting with us.

"But I just wanted to say very quickly why we took him out of the hospital.

"The surgeon did a wonderful job on his head that took out the brain tumour, completely they reckon.

"But straight away afterwards he went into what's called posterior fossa syndrome, which means very limited moving or talking or doing anything."

Mr King said he had spoken to specialists following Ashya's surgery and had requested proton beam treatment, which was not available on the NHS.

"Proton beam is so much better for children with brain cancer," he said. "It zones in on the area, whereby normal radiation passes right through his head and comes out the other side and destroys everything in his head.

"We pleaded with them for proton beam treatment. They looked at me straight in the face and said with his cancer - which is called medulloblastoma - it would have no benefit whatsoever.

"I went straight back to my room and looked it up and the American sites and French sites and Switzerland sites where they have proton beam said the opposite, it would be very beneficial for him.

"Then I spoke to them again, I wrote a letter which he never responded to, saying OK - I will sell my property in order to pay for the proton beam."

Mr King said his son's treatment seemed like "trial and error" and he was told if he questioned the treatment the hospital would seek an emergency protection order.

He said: "After that I realised I can't speak to the oncologist at all, because if I actually ask anything or give any doubt I wasn't in full accord with them, they were going to get a protection order which meant in his deepest, darkest hour I wouldn't be there to look after him, and neither would my wife - they would prevent us from entering the ward.

"That's such a cruel system I decided I to start looking at the proton beam myself."

He added: "We decided to try and sort it out ourselves but now we're refugees almost.

"We can't do anything. The police are after us. The things we want to do to raise the money to pay for the proton beam, they've prevented it now.

"So my son is being treated and he's doing fine. We're very happy with his progress. We're not neglecting him. He has everything he had in hospital."