The mother of a Surrey University student is considering action against Guildford police after being arrested as she tried to stop her son leaving with a "dangerous" religious cult. Bernadette Sheridan said she would consult a solicitor after police pinned her down and handcuffed her outside Guildford police station on Tuesday night last week.
Miss Sheridan, a religious education teacher, had been clinging to her 19-year-old son Kyri to prevent him joining the Jesus Christians, a religious group that insists its members reject their families. Friends and family claim the mechanical engineering student was not in his right mind, but police said they could not stop him. Inspector David Callender said: "We asked if he was happy to be with them and he said yes." He added: Our hands are tied. Kyri is 19 and free to make his own decisions.
Miss Sheridan has accepted an apology for her arrest, but feels police should have carried out a medical assessment of her son. He has not been heard from for 10 days. She said: "This is totally out of character for him. He's a fantastic person and I love him and want to see him. I want to speak to him and I want to know where he is." According to Graham Baldwin of Catalyst, a charity to help families of people involved with cults, Kyri had only been in touch with the Jesus Christians for a few days before he made his decision to leave. He had swiftly changed from being an energetic and easygoing character to secretive and zombie-like.
His mother said his eyes were glazed, he was expressionless and he was breathing strangely. Before getting involved with the cult, her son was very popular, humorous, outgoing and honest. A part-time life guard at Guildford Spectrum, he was a devout Christian and went home to London to worship with his family most weekends. On Monday, July 6, however, he told his mother he would be going on a mission with the Jesus Christians. After a tense phone conversation with a group member, Miss Sheridan reported him missing. By Tuesday, he had been told to remove his name from the missing persons list at Guildford police station.
It was there the struggle took place late on Tuesday evening last week. Eyewitnesses claim a cult member, Francisco, told Kyris distraught mother: "He's not your son any more." Friends and family berated police for ignoring their pleas to give him a medical assessment. After Miss Sheridans arrest, the Jesus Christians and Kyri left in a white Leyland DAF van.
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