Teenage runaway `surprised by fuss'

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The Independent Online

The runaway British teenager Peter Kerry was due to arrive back in London early today after telling his mother he was surprised about the fuss surrounding his trip to Malaysia.

The 14-year-old was being flown home after British High Commission officials in Malaysia collected him from the home of a British resident in the town near the border with Thailand where he was found on Sunday.

The Malaysian Airlines flight was due to arrive at Heathrow at 5.40am, ending a 15,000-mile round journey which began a week ago when Peter had a minor row with his father. Peter, who had previously run away to France and Scotland, stole his father's passport and credit card, bought a £499 ticket to Kuala Lumpur and walked through passport control and onto a Malaysian Airlines flight.

The Malaysian authorities failed to notice anything amiss when he arrived and he then headed for the southern city of Johor Baharu, where a hotel refused to accept his father's Visa card. He phoned his parents, John and Pat Kerry from Harrow, north-west London, to tell them he had run out of money but still managed to travel hundreds of miles north by bus to Kota Baharu, where he was seen by local people.

They contacted the British High Commission, which arranged for him to stay at the home of Nicholas Jackson, a British doctor, before collecting him yesterday. Peter looked fit but downhearted when he arrived at Kuala Lumpur airport and said nothing to reporters.

Peter spoke to his mother by telephone yesterday. She said on BBC television afterwards: "He is amazed that people are interested and doesn't know what all the fuss is about." He told her local people had been very kind, giving him help and money to travel several hundred miles.

Mrs Kerry, a Home Office civil servant, said she was too relieved that he was safe to feel angry. She added: "I just felt sick and really worried the whole time. I kept having flashes in my mind of terrible things happening to Peter. I felt really really ill and I didn't like to eat because I was thinking, I'm eating but is Peter eating? . . . I'm just happy now and I want him back."

Peter ran away after he had spilt some spaghetti, causing a row. His father refused to take him to a football match with the Kerry's two other children and while they were out he left.

Mr Kerry, 59, who works for a courier firm at Heathrow, said: "I think it was all about opportunity. As soon as we left the house at about 6pm I think Peter went into action. I think he has got a duplicate key to my locked steel cabinet because this time I know I had not left it unlocked because previously he has used that as an excuse.

"Less than a fortnight previously he had got to Heathrow airport with my stolen credit cards, his own passport on this occasion, my chequebook and my wallet complete with all my money in it."