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Police Hunt Cult Teen

POLICE in Britain are hunting for a teenager who has joined an Australian religious cult based in Newcastle, NSW.

The only news of missing 16-year-old Bobby Kelly has come through stage-managed e-mails from the cult's leader Dave McKay in Australia.

Now police have issued a warrant for the arrest of the cult's Australian members in Britain and gagged Mr McKay from speaking in the UK.

Two weeks ago, Bobby Kelly ran away from his home in Essex and joined the Jesus Christians after being handed religious leaflets outside his local shops.

At the cult's run-down headquarters in Maitland Road, Newcastle, Mr McKay, 55, said Kelly would not be handed over to British authorities because ``de-programmers would brainwash him".

Instead he was arranging for a solicitor to interview Bobby to establish that he had not been kidnapped and was with the cult of his own free will.

Since leaving the home he shared with his grandmother Ruth Kelly, Bobby has been made a ward of court by the High Court in London.

Mrs Kelly said that she had spoken to her grandson on the phone but said he sounded like ``a complete stranger".

The Jesus Christians admit to advising Bobby on his answers to e-mailed questions. In one, the teenager insisted he had ``never been happier".

A British High Court injunction has banned the British media from reporting anything Bobby or the Jesus Christians say in order to deny the cult a public platform.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of cult members Susan and Roland Gianstefani, the Australians who are believed to have recruited Bobby.

American-born Mr McKay is a former member of the controversial Children of God cult. He said the Jesus Christians only had seven members in Australia and just 18 worldwide.

``As soon as people hear the word cult they think of Waco and Jonestown. But it is true we are a fringe group and we are extreme and we are small."

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