Father may lose custody of runaway girl sailor

Father may lose custody of runaway girl sailor

A teenage sailor faced the possibility of being removed from her father’s custody today as she returned to the Netherlands after disappearing from home and flying to the Caribbean.

Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reported that the Bureau of Youth Care wanted to remove 14-year-old Laura Dekker from her father’s home, where she lives.

Bureau spokesman Joost Lanshage declined to comment on the report.

“We didn’t publicise this,” he said. “We first want to see how Laura is. We have seen her and want to know what is happening.”

Utrecht District Court spokeswoman Edmee Leeman confirmed the bureau had requested a hearing this afternoon to discuss Laura but had no further details.

Laura made headlines earlier this year when a court banned her from attempting to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

At the same time, the court ordered the youth bureau to appoint a temporary guardian to liaise with her father about all important decisions in the teenager’s life.

The court would have to approve any request by the bureau to change Laura’s living arrangements.

Laura’s father is a keen sailor and has always said he believes his daughter is capable of sailing alone around the world even though her longest solo voyage so far has been to Britain and back.

Police spokesman Bernhard Jens said Laura was interviewed by officers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport before being turned over to child care authorities.

Mr Lanshage said his bureau had spoken to Laura but gave no details, citing privacy rules.

Laura was shielded from waiting media as she arrived on a flight from the Netherlands Antilles island of Curacao early today.

Police now want to know how she managed to fly to the island of St Maarten and whether anybody helped her.

Laura’s mother, who is divorced from her father, reported her missing on Friday.

Police on St. Maarten said she flew there via Paris on Thursday.

Dutch police announced late on Sunday that they had tracked her down, but were still trying to piece together exactly how she managed to get there.

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