Malaysians get credit for finding runaway boy

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The Independent Online

The runaway British teenager Peter Kerry, who flew to Malaysia using his father's passport and credit card, was found safe yesterday and will fly home to be reunited with his parents today.

Peter, 14, was spotted by some people who are thought to have seen his photograph in Malaysian newspapers trying to cash a traveller's cheque in the remote town of Kota Baharu, near the border with Thailand.

The British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur was alerted and officials arranged for him to be looked after.

High Commission officials will travel to Kota Baharu today and escort Peter to the Malaysian capital where he will be put on a flight due to arrive later today at Heathrow. He will be met by his parents John and Pat Kerry from Harrow, north-west London.

Mr Kerry, 59, who works for a courier firm at Heathrow, said last night: "All of a sudden it's a lovely day. I cannot express my gratitude to all the people who have helped locate Peter."

But Mr Kerry predicted that his son, who has previously run away to France and Scotland, and two weeks ago was picked up by police as he tried to fly to Paris, will be off again soon. He described him as having "no conscience".

The boy left home on Tuesday night, after being reprimanded for messing up the family's videotape collection and spilling some spaghetti and was banned from going to a football match. He flew 6,800 miles to Malaysia using his father's credit card and passport.

He then travelled 200 miles to Johore Baharu in southern Malaysia where a hotel refused to accept his father's Visa card. He then telephoned his parents telling them that he had run out of money. After being refused entry at the Singapore border he moved several hundred miles north to Kota Baharu.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "He was spotted by some Malaysians while he was trying to cash a traveller's cheque about 20 kilometres from the Thai border. He is now sleeping. He is very tired and pretty jet-lagged. He has been wandering around quite a lot.

"We don't yet know why he chose to go to Malaysia. He was so exhausted he went straight to sleep. He was well, but absolutely shattered."

Peter's ability to get through passport controls and on to a Malaysia Airlines flight has called airport security arrangements into question His father said: "We don't look anything like each other. There's a tremendous difference, obviously, in age. I'm dark, he's fair.

"I don't understand how anybody, still less the immigration officers, could mistake a 14-year-old-boy for a 59-year-old man. As far as I am concerned there is no way he should have been allowed to get out of Heathrow."