A nine-year-old boy who ended up in Niue after being allegedly kidnapped by his father in the US leaves the island today to be reunited with his mother.
Billy Hanson spent sixty days crossing the Pacific in a 38 foot yacht with his father and pet kitten.
Investigators tracked down the pair to Niue, a coral atoll known by its 1,600 inhabitants as The Rock, 1,500 miles north-east of New Zealand.
Members of the island’s 15-member police force arrested Jeffrey Hanson on 29 October, the FBI said, adding that he had since been deported to the US where he would be charged with international parental kidnapping.
While Jeffrey Hanson left Niue last week with a police escort, his son remained on the island for a further four days while arrangements were made for him to return to his mother.
The editor of the Niue Star newspaper said locals had rallied around to look after the boy, who seemed to be treating his time in the South Pacific as an adventure. “I saw him at a barbecue on Friday and he did not look stressed,” Michael Jackson said. “He had a Niue T-shirt on and was enjoying himself.”
He said the child had become something of a celebrity during his time on the island. “When I was at the petrol station he came past and people were whispering: ‘There’s the boy who was kidnapped’,” Jackson said. “It’s all been quite exciting for us.”