Robert Gurling hunt: Father said ‘he wasn’t going to have son adopted’

Robert Gurling

Robert Gurling - Credit: Archant

Robert Gurling – the father being hunted by police after abducting his three-year-old son from foster parents – said he “wasn’t going to have him adopted”, his mother has revealed.

Dorothy Barrett, 70, of Romford, spoke to the Recorder shortly before police issued a direct plea for her son to hand himself in.

Mr Gurling, 45, also known as Reg, sparked a huge manhunt when he snatched his son from foster parents on Saturday. They were last seen at Great Notley, near Braintree, at about 10.30am that day.

Mrs Barrett said she “wasn’t surprised” by his actions and stressed he poses no risk to his child, to whom he is not allowed unsupervised access.

“The baby was taken away from his mother when he was 20 months old,” she said. “Robert’s been trying to go for custody through the courts and not got anywhere. It’s very unfair.


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“He’d say he wasn’t going to have his son adopted and never see him again.

“I’ve got no idea what’s going through his head, he loves his son. That is all he wants.”

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Mr Gurling, an office removal worker, grew up in Rainham before leaving home at 26. Mrs Barrett said she wasn’t close to him but he used to visit a lot when his son was born.

She described him as “hard-working” and said he had moved home a lot – renting rooms and staying with friends around Havering since splitting from his son’s mother.

When asked whether she thought he should turn himself in, she added: “I am on his side, he’s been wronged and I understand why he’s doing it. I would tell him to do the right thing.”

Today, Essex Police urged Mr Gurling to give himself up.

Det Ch Insp Simon Werrett has given new information about the boy, who has a “pronounced lisp” and “looks more like a two-year-old”.

He added: “I know Mr Gurling cares deeply for the boy but he has been missing since Saturday and we need to find him.

“Mr Gurling, please hand yourself in. Either call us on 999 or go to your nearest police station.”

Mr Gurling is 6ft, of medium build and has cropped dark hair. He was last seen wearing a grey tracksuit top and jeans. His blonde son was wearing a jacket, grey tracksuit trousers and red trainers. They may be travelling in a blue car.

Anyone who sees the pair should phone 999 immediately. Anyone with less-urgent information should call Essex Police on 01245 282103.

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