Christmas miracle: Heartbroken dad reunited with missing children three years after they disappeared
More than three years after they went missing and many lonely Christmases, Harry Speath finally gets to enjoy the festive season with his children once again.
61-year-old Australian father of two Harry Speath will undoubtedly have a merrier Christmas after he was reunited with his missing children a little over three years after they had initially disappeared. Brisbane native Speath had been waiting for then six-year-old Serena and five-year-old Thomas at the gates of their school in Carindale on December 5, 2014, but the pair would never show.
They were reported missing and included in a national campaign to 'Help Bring Them Home' ahead of International Missing Children's Day in 2015 launched by Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Andrew Colvin. At the time, Speath had despondently said: "To some extent, it feels like they've died but there's nobody to bury."
On Wednesday, after over three years of searching and wondering if his kids were alive, the Australian Federal Police knocked on his door with his children in tow, sparking elation. Taking to Facebook on Thursday, Speath thanked everyone on his 'Find Serena & Thomas Speath' page and called it 'the best Christmas present.'
Now aged eight and nine respectively, Thomas and Serena were found in the Sunshine Coast hinterland with their mother, approximately 150 km from where they originally disappeared. Speath had initially feared that his wife, Jane Adare, had taken his two children to Europe because she held a dual-citizenship in the United Kingdom.
Search efforts often led to dead ends because of false sightings and the fact that the children were not enrolled in any school nor had their Medicare cards used meant that leads were few and far between.
Speath, however, refused to give up the search for his children. He set up the aforementioned 'Find Serena & Thomas Speath' Facebook page to look for them, in the process garnering support from thousands of parents across the country.
This past May, experts from the US created a photo manipulation to show what Serena and Thomas would look like in 2017. The images were circulated nationally in the hope that someone would recognize the siblings and search efforts were redoubled.
As the years passed, Speath still kept burning candles for them and posted messages on social media on their behalf. He said: "What we are doing is burning candles for Serena and Thomas and they are getting a little lower because they’ve been burned quite a bit. So they flicker nicely and I hope Serena and Thomas get to see this because of course, it’s for them, representing their daddy’s love for them as we hope we’ll see each other soon."
In 2015, he spoke to The Courier-Mail about his constant heartache and his desperation to find his children. He said: "Obviously as time goes on it’s a bit distressing. It’s not knowing where they are, whether or not they’re being educated." He also spoke about how difficult Christmas was: "I’ve got lots of presents for them. I’ve still got the Christmas tree up. Just not having them around is a bit difficult."
Two weeks ago, Speath took to Facebook to write out a long and heartfelt post commemorating the three-years since his two children went missing.
He wrote: "Today I am reflecting on a monumental milestone in the timeline since the abduction of my children by their mother,' he began. 'It is three years exactly since the last time I saw my children. It is three years exactly since the last time I have spoken to my children."
"It is three years exactly since I've obtained any news as to their education, health, wellbeing and so many other things that any concerned parent takes for granted. It's been three sets of birthdays (both theirs and mine), Christmases, Easters, Father's Days, three years worth of holidays, countless visits to their paternal grandmum, aunt and indeed their half brother's visits from his overseas work assignments. In that time, none of us has had the normal family pleasures taken for granted by normal folks."
"So what can I say to my children on this horrid anniversary? I guess all I can say is that I don't know when I'll see you guys. I hope it's soon. I know you guys don't know what all the above stuff is about, and I don't expect you to – until you are much, much older."
The post goes into much more detail about how he feels the local government has failed him but ends with a heartbreaking: "In the meantime. I love you both very, very much. I’m sending you guys many, many, many hugs & kisses across the miles between us, no matter how far."
Adare appeared before the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in Brisbane for abducting the children, while an overjoyed Speath will be celebrating Christmas with his children.
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