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Friday, 13 December, 2002, 08:27 GMT
Search for teen bride in Turkey
Mehmet Ocak and Rachael Lloyd
Mehmet Ocak and Rachael Lloyd in a bar in Turkey
A teenage girl who ran away to Turkey to marry a barman is reported to have phoned her mother to say she has no intention of coming home.

Rachael Lloyd, 14, had contacted her family to say she would not leave Mehmet Ocak, 24, to return to north Wales.

Her father Bob Lloyd, from Wrexham, is travelling out to Istanbul to join the search for Rachael, which involves North Wales Police and Interpol.

Bob Lloyd, Rachael's father
Bob Lloyd: Worried for Rachael's safety

Efforts are being made to try and find Rachael and return her to her family before Christmas.

But there are already concerns that it will be extremely difficult to find Rachael in Istanbul - a city of 10m people - if the teenager does not want to be traced.

The teenager telephone her grandmother Carol Lloyd in north Wales on Thursday night and was passed on to a police officer.

She confirmed she was safe and well but gave no clue as to her whereabouts.

Rachael first met Mr Ocak, who is understood to already be married, on a trip to Turkey during May half-term.

Within days, he had apparently asked her to get engaged and she returned twice to visit him, accompanied by her grandmother whom she lives with.

Her parents, Karen Thomas and ex-husband Bob Lloyd, told the newspaper they had confiscated her passport.

Despite this, Rachael flew to Turkey last week .

We have her Christmas presents sitting here waiting until she comes back home

Bob Lloyd, Rachael's father

She rang her grandmother, Carol Lloyd, and told her she had married Mr Ocak.

Mrs Lloyd believes the couple are in Istanbul.

The BBC's Johnny Dymond said the police in Istanbul had not shown a great deal of urgency in dealing with the case so far.

"The British consulate say a search is taking place, but Istanbul is an enormous metropolis and there is no sense you could carry out a search in the same way you could in a town or village," said Mr Dymond.

"There are neighbourhoods that do not even know each other and people moving into the city all the time.

Becky Lloyd
Becky Lloyd: Concern for sister

"It will be very difficult to find her if she does not want to be found, unless there is saturation media coverage in the city."

Mr Lloyd told the BBC he was preparing to fly to Turkey to track down his daughter and was travelling to Liverpool to get a passport on Thursday.

He confirmed that Rachael did not have a passport and did not know how she managed to get to Turkey.

He said he felt "numb" and was desperate to find his daughter.

"I am going to try and go over there and a friend has given me a blank cheque to help out, so I am going to take him up on that.

Bob Lloyd with Rachael's Christmas presents
Bob Lloyd with Rachael's Christmas presents

The law in Turkey does not allow girls under the age of 15 to marry.

However there is concern that Rachael may have forged documents to enable her to marry.

Rachael had been interviewed by social services following a return trip to Turkey earlier this year.

Wrexham chief social services officer Andrew Figiel told BBC Radio Wales: "We have been recently made aware of this situation which is very concerning to all those involved.

"Given the concerns, we have been in discussions with the police and her parents on the best way of securing her return.

"We do have responsibility in terms of her welfare overall safety, protection and general welfare and it's important that we try to reach some agreement when she does return to this country on her long-term living arrangements.

'Worrying time'

"Efforts are being made to try and trace her in Turkey and I'm hopeful she will be returning to this country soon.

"It's a very, very worrying time for her family, we are in discussions with them and like everybody involved we are keen to find out where she is and ensure she is safe and well."

The case echoes that of Sarah Cook, who was 12 when she became involved with Turkish waiter Musa Komeagac while on holiday.

They married when she was 13, and had a son a year later.

Sarah was later made a ward of court and returned to Britain after the marriage was declared void by courts in both the UK and Turkey.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Robert Thomas
"The search for Rachel is set to widen"

More from north east Wales
See also:

11 Dec 02 | Country profiles
22 Jul 02 | Islamic world
28 Feb 02 | Europe
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