Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blackpool sisters leaving Fez

In what looks like a happy ending to the abduction of two British sisters, the Blackpool Gazette reports that they should be on their way home on the flight that leaves Fez this morning.

Grandmother and legal guardian of the girls, Rita Astbury

Their mother, Trudy Crofts, is in jail in the UK for contempt of court after refusing to sign a letter instructing her new Moroccan husband's family to return Carene, 12, and Shelby, 10. The girls have been in Morocco for three months.

In a surprise development, a man claiming to be a friend of Ms Crofts' husband, Abdullah Zroiai, phoned The Blackpool Gazette to reveal the family was willing to return the girls.

In a statement released through Blackpool man Halim Bouhassi, Mr Zroiai said: "After much soul searching I have decided I can no longer be responsible for Carene and Shelby's continued absence from their home in Blackpool, their education and their friends.

"I did what I did out of loyalty and respect to their mother, Trudy, and at all times the girls have been properly cared for.

"However, the time has come for their return to England.

"I hope this will result in a happy ending for all involved and hope Rita can re-build a relationship with her daughter and granddaughters without intervention from the courts and can look forward to spending Christmas together as a family."

Following calls by The Gazette to alert Blackpool Police and Ms Astbury's solicitor, the wheels were set in motion. The UK Foreign Office and the British and Moroccan Embassies were contacted. Detectives later said they had confirmed the family in Morocco were willing to hand back Carene and Shelby.

A delighted Ms Astbury said: "I am praying this does happen. I will keep my fingers crossed."

In addition to his statement, Mr Bouhassi said he hoped Mr Zroiai, who is currently in Spain, would face no action from the police.

He also said Mr Zroiai hoped the courts would also look favourably at overturning Ms Crofts' contempt of court conviction if the girls were returned.

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