The Bramley Affair: Bramleys keep girls as custody war starts

THE COUPLE who flew back to Britain from their hideaway in Ireland insisted last night that the two foster daughters they had abducted were happy and healthy and had enjoyed an "exciting holiday".

After being questioned for hours by police, Jeff and Jenny Bramley issued a statement, claiming they had been forced to run away with half-sisters Jade and Hannah Bennett, aged five and three respectively, to escape the control of social services.

"The only thing we thought we could do was leave with the children. But as soon as we heard the social services would allow the court to take an independent look ... we arranged ... to return," they said.

The legal battle for custody of the two children was due to begin today in the High Court in London. Cambridgeshire social services said it was happy to allow the couple to care for the children until the courts decided their fate. The council insisted, however, that it would still object to the couple's application for adoption. "Our position has not changed," said a spokesman.

It was revealed last night that despite a number of reported sightings around Britain, the family had spent most, if not all, of the past four months in the Irish Republic.

Having driven from their Cambridgeshire home to York - where they dumped their car to leave a false trail - the couple travelled to a small seaside community on the south-east Atlantic coast. For part of the time, at least, they stayed at a caravan in Fenit, near Tralee, Co Kerry.

By leaving the country before they were reported missing by social services on 14 September, when they failed to return the two girls, the couple did not arouse suspicion at the Holyhead ferry terminal in North Wales.

Yesterday detectives from Cambridgeshire police spent several hours interviewing Mr and Mrs Bramley, under caution, at a police station outside the county. In a statement Detective Superintendent John Cummins said the pair had co-operated fully and had explained their "reasons for leaving ... their whereabouts and experiences during the 17 weeks they were away from home." He added that a file would be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, which would decide whether the couple should face any charges. A decision is expected in days.

Social services were keen to stress that both girls had been examined by a doctor and were fit and well. While their foster parents were questioned, the girls played at a secret address.

The Bramleys flew back to Britain on Saturday night, arriving at Stansted airport, Essex, from Kerry.

Search team, page 2; Given the runaround, page 3.

In the Review section:

Letters, page 2; Leading article, page 3

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Executive - UK / International

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a long-established, renown...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Signs and Graphics

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The key requirements of the rol...

Recruitment Genius: Company Commercial / Company Property Solicitor

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This south Warwickshire based s...

Selby Jennings: Leveraged Finance - Senior Associate - International Bank - Frankfurt

Competitive + bonus: Selby Jennings: My client, a growing European CIB are loo...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible