A religious cult accused of kidnapping a teenager admitted yesterday that they will "eventually" have to hand him back.
In a posting on their web site, the Jesus Christians said Bobby Kelly, 16, would be able to pick "the time, place and circumstances under which to give himself up". The statement said: "Bobby is strongly opposed to going with the police. However, we are trying to prepare him both psychologically and spiritually for such a situation."
Although his whereabouts are not known, the cult has given assurances that he has not been taken out of Britain. David McKay, leader of the cult, which is based in Sydney, said they would press for continued access to the missing youth, who has been made a ward of court.
He said: "The ideal thing for a 16-year-old kid, who under any other circumstances would be allowed to make his own decisions, is that he should be able to have whoever he wants as friends. He should be allowed to live with his grandmother but he should be allowed to have visitors."
Ruth Kelly, 58, applied to the High Court last week to have her grandson made a ward of court in order to get him returned. He met the Jesus Christians when they were recruiting at a shopping centre near his home in Romford, east London.
He was living with his grandmother in order to finish his education at a local school after his mother, Jessica, moved to Clacton, Essex, with her daughter Charlotte, five. After joining the cult Bobby spoke to Mrs Kelly on the telephone but she expressed concern that someone was "guiding his responses" and that he sounded like a "complete stranger".
The Jesus Christians claimed that Mrs Kelly had helped him obtain a passport for a missionary trip to Germany.
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