Police find snatched twins safe and well

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The Independent Online

A woman who snatched her twins and was feared to have fled the country was found at a petrol station not far from her home, police said today.

Officers also discovered Tamara Dyson's four-year-old children, Billy and Vixen Francis, in a car at the garage on the A17 near Newark, Nottinghamshire, shortly before midnight.

They subsequently arrested a man and 37-year-old Ms Dyson on suspicion of kidnap.

They are currently being questioned at Lincoln police station while the children are in police protection.

The twins, who were snatched from a social services care centre in Skegness, Lincolnshire, last Thursday by their mother, were described as safe and well.

A police spokeswoman said: "I believe there were observations in the area. Police spotted a car and saw the occupants matched the descriptions and stopped them and put in a challenge."

Police were unable to give details of the man who was arrested.

It had been feared Ms Dyson had taken the children to the Republic of Ireland, while there had been possible sightings in Scotland, Cumbria and Wales. But Newark is only about 60 miles from Skegness and a 90-minute drive.

Social workers were supposed to be monitoring a visit from their grandmother when the twins were taken last Thursday.

On Tuesday, their father, 31-year-old electrician William Francis, from Greenwich, south east London, said he was "livid" about social services' handling of the case. He also made a series of appeals for public help in tracking the children down.

There were apparently two social workers present but Ms Dyson, an alcoholic, managed to sneak in and seize them after staff became distracted while making a cup of coffee.

She snatched the twins from the same contact centre last Monday during a supervised visit but was tracked down and an interim care order put in place.

A second meeting at the same centre was arranged for Thursday with the twins' 61-year-old grandmother, Judith Dyson.

Police initially gave a long list of where the children might be, including the Republic of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Cumbria but said they did not have a "solid idea" of where Ms Dyson was.

Olympia Dyson, Ms Dyson's 16-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, said her mother was abused by the twins' father, who pleaded guilty to actual bodily harm in October 2008.

It also emerged that Ms Dyson was scheduled to have a meeting today to see whether she could look after the twins on a permanent basis.

But Olympia revealed her mother had been told by social workers there was only a slim chance of that happening.

The X Factor hopeful, who was arrested herself after her mother's disappearance, said: "The social workers were saying there was a slim chance of getting the twins back and she felt desperate because there was nothing she had done to make that happen.

"She's just desperate for us all to be a family again."

She painted a different picture of Mr Francis from the concerned man who begged for the return of his children, alleging that her mother was regularly punched and kicked during their eight-year relationship.

Olympia said that, on two other occasions, social workers said her mother could have the twins back and then changed their minds.

She said that, on the morning of the abduction, her mother seemed "normal".

Court hearings of care proceedings involving children cannot usually be reported but on Monday Judge Heather Swindells QC made an order at Lincoln County Court to allow publicity under the Children Act 1989.

Police said the man arrested was 62 and from the Mansfield area of Nottinghamshire.

The twins have now been returned to the care of Lincolnshire County Council's social services department.

Ms Dyson and the man will be transferred to Skegness police station for questioning by detectives.

Police said they were found with the twins at the Murco petrol station on the Lincoln-bound carriageway of the A46 near the junction with the A17.

A police statement added: "The children are described as being in good health and were interacting well with the police officers who took care of them prior to them being collected by children's services.

"At this stage, there is no indication where the family has been since last Thursday nor where they were intending to travel."

A press conference will be held today at 3pm outside Skegness police station.