The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Dad’s plea over girl abducted by mother
A BRITISH father’s young daughter is being held captive in a church in Norway – ten months after her mother abducted her.
Maia Shepherd celebrated her seventh birthday last week in Spjelkavik church, Alesund, where her mother is defying a custody order and a criminal charge of ‘illegally withholding’ the girl from Dominic Shepherd.
Maia’s Norwegian mother, Tonje Bjornsen, has claimed sanctuary at the church for four months. Police have refused to intervene.
IT specialist Mr Shepherd, 40, said: ‘I was in tears that I couldn’t be with Maia on her special day. My twin sons, Tobias and Christian, who are ten, were in tears too. They miss their little sister as much as I do.’ Mr Shepherd met Miss Bjornsen 13 years ago in Majorca. After moving to Cheshire, Miss Bjornsen gave birth to the twins. Three years later, Maia was born.
In August last year, Miss Bjornsen said she had to go home as her mother was ill. She took the children with her but when she refused to return, Mr Shepherd won custody of the children and flew to Norway.
He was told he could pick up them up from school, but his wife had already fled with Maia.
Miss Bjornsen’s legal team has vowed to fight the case.
Mr Shepherd said: ‘I won’t rest until Maia is reunited with her brothers and me.’