Elliana Shand
Elliana Shand, also known as Elliana Richards, is the subject of care proceedings in the UK. Family handout

A High Court judge had made the unusual step of making a plea to the public to help track down a three-year-old girl who has vanished with her schizophrenic mother.

Elliana Shand, also known as Elliana Richards, is believed to be in the UK with her schizophrenic mother, Jessica Richards.

The child, who turns four next month, has not been seen since September when she was due to return to the UK from Jamaica.

Elliana was due to be taken into care in May. Now, Mr Justice Hayden said that he is "very concerned indeed" for her safety.

"In optimum circumstances, the mother's capacity to meet her daughter's needs was barely satisfactory," he said.

"But, it is abundantly clear that under stress, perhaps not taking her anti-psychotic medicine, perhaps in the grip of auditory commands which are hallucinatory, she poses, despite her love for her daughter, a very real risk to her safety."

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham had concluded that her mother no longer provided her with the essential safety and security that Elliana needed, and she should remain within her family, but on the paternal side.

During court proceedings Sharon Shand, grandmother of Elliana, told how she flew with the child to Jamaica to spend time together and handed Elliana over to her mother, who also has severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), on her return to the UK.

"I have utterly no doubt that she is in contact with her daughter and, almost certainly, her granddaughter," added Hayden.

The judge added that it was clear that Jessica Richards had a warm and affectionate relationship with her child, as did Sharon Shand. "This is a very much loved little girl. In that she is immensely fortunate," added Hayden.

Hayden continued to say that he hoped that putting the information into the public domain would return Elliana to "circumstances where she is safe", reported the Guardian.