Northern Territory Police had partnered up with the Australian Federal Police and other agencies previously this week to intensify their search for the child.
Grace Hughes, a five-year-old girl from the Northern Territory, has finally been found after being missing for nearly a fortnight due to an alleged child abduction.
The five-year-old was allegedly taken without consent of her legal guardian by her mother Laura Hinks, also known as Laura Bolt, on the afternoon of August 7 during a supervised parental visit in the Darwin suburb of Berrimah.
Grace is receiving medical attention but "is in good health", according to Northern Territory (NT) Police, who issued a statement today, per ABC Australia. Her mother is currently assisting cops with their investigations.
Her mother is currently cooperating with law enforcement in their investigations. Authorities said on August 17 that the alleged abduction was the work of a group peddling "ideologies and false information."
Detective Superintendent Kirsten Engels told journalists in Alice Springs that Grace was handed over to police in Darwin around 10 a.m. on August 18. "We're still piecing together the full picture of what happened... but I can tell you she's safely home now," she said. Engels also said that Grace is "happy to be home" and is receiving a medical check but is "physically in good health".
Police did not respond to inquiries about Grace's whereabouts in the last 11 days that she had been missing.
According to Detective Superintendent Engels, one person is in custody, and many others are assisting police with their investigations. "We believe the person who handed her in this morning was connected with [a] group that has taken responsibility for the alleged abduction and concealment of Grace," she said.
"We are extremely grateful that the community came to the party and provided us with numerous leads of investigation. They were all followed."
NT Police partnered up with the Australian Federal Police and other agencies previously this week to intensify their search for the child. In a statement issued yesterday, NT Police claimed that a group was spreading "ideologies and false information" about the alleged abduction.
A multi-agency task force was formed to find the little girl, with NT Police Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Jon Beer condemning the "despicable" group that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
The police prioritised the case, stating, "Police will use every power available to them to locate Grace," Senior Sergeant Beer said. “Anyone who is found to have harboured those who abducted Grace will face significant charges.”
'Abducted' five-year-old, Grace Hughes, found in good health, police say https://t.co/9Wtml913vQ— ABC News (@abcnews) August 19, 2022
Detective Superintendent Kirsten Engels had made a very strong, emotional appeal a few days back, requesting people to come forward with any information they might have, DailyMail reported.
"We know that there will be people in the community that can assist us, they will know where Grace is and they'll be able to help us," Ms Engels appealed to viewers to help them find Grace. "We're asking you to do the right thing, reach out and call police and let us know what information you have, no matter how small."
Supt Engels said the five-year-old needed to be returned so she could go to school and be reunited with her friends, asserting that this kidnapping would have a very 'traumatic effect' on the child, and will seriously affect her mental and 'psychological wellbeing'. "Whatever issues that are preventing her return should and could be dealt with in appropriate ways, taking Grace in this matter is not appropriate," she said. "Our primary concern is the wellbeing and safety of Grace, knowing that this would be a very traumatic event being removed from this meeting and separated from her siblings," she continued. "It is likely to have a detrimental effect on her mental and psychological wellbeing."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | ABC News Australia