Six-year-old lived in cult

The Gazette, UK/September 15, 2010

A Blackpool woman who abducted her six-year-old daughter and took her to Canada had been living with a "cult-like group", it has been revealed.

Helen Gavaghan disappeared with her daughter Pearl in December 2008 after telling estranged partner Henry Da Massa they were going on holiday.

In July this year, an international investigation led to a sighting of the mother and daughter in Toronto, Canada.

Now Mr Da Massa, who has been living in Canada for six months believes he is just weeks away from discovering the whereabouts of Pearl.

The police investigation in Canada led them to Zacchaeus House, a communal home which openly admits housing fugitives such as army deserters from the US.

Despite evidence suggesting Pearl and Helen lived in the home for months, the community are remaining tight lipped according to Mr Da Massa.

He said: "We are having real difficulty getting information, I'm convinced they know more than they say.

"Although they aren't affiliated to any recognised religious body, they are open about the fact they admit fugitives. The fact I don't know how Pearl has been living is very distressing.

"It appears Helen was in touch with anarchist groups months before she left the UK, she was looking for such a group, a cult if I can use that word.

"They are exactly that, they don't recognise the law or the government, they operate on a sense of personal justice."

Helen, now 33, is originally from North Shore and attended Greenlands and the former Knowle High School before leaving the area to go to university. Her parents still live in Repton Avenue.

Pearl is the subject of a shared residence order between the couple which gives them joint custody. The High Court has ruled Helen broke the law and she faces arrest if she returns to Britain.

Mr Da Massa told of his concerns for Pearl. He said: "I worry about the type of people she has been living with, she is impressionable and absorbing everything around her.

"For a parent, there is nothing more frightening than hearing that."

Today, Helen Gavaghan's parents Rosemary and Michael said: "We would like it to be known we support Helen and Pearl and miss them both terribly."

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