Police are searching for a mother believed to have run away with her seven-year-old son to avoid him having treatment for a brain tumour.
Sally Roberts, 37, who is also known as Sally Leese, was believed to have gone missing with her son Neon Roberts from the Tiverton area on Monday.
Officers have launched an urgent appeal after growing concern for the health of the youngster, who has recently undergone surgery. Doctors treating him said he is in need of urgent medical attention. It is believed his mother is opposed to further treatment, Devon and Cornwall Police said.
Their whereabouts is unknown, but police are asking any members of the public who may have seen them to come forward. "Neon is seriously ill and we have huge concern for his welfare," said Assistant Chief Constable Chris Boarland, adding: "Neon is currently subject to a Family Court order and I would ask his mother to think about her son's welfare and contact police and medical services.
"Neon needs urgent medical attention and his well-being, along with his mother, is our prime concern."
New Zealand-born Ms Roberts has been involved in a court case with an NHS trust and council officials over whether her son should have radiotherapy treatment. A High Court judge made the decision to name Neon yesterday, despite him being at the centre of ongoing legal proceedings.
Sightings of the pair were reported in Sussex and Kent yesterday. Devon and Cornwall Police has set up a dedicated Twitter hashtag for anyone with information to help the investigation.