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Youth Found In Forest Cult Hideout

A BRITISH teenager who vanished from his home a month ago to join a NSW religious cult has been returned to his family by police.

Police found 16-year-old Bobby Kelly hiding in a tent in a forest in Hampshire, with two members of the Jesus Christians sect.

But cult leader David McKay, whose Newcastle-based organisation believes followers should give up everything to work for God, has insisted he will continue legal action to keep in contact with the boy.

Bobby disappeared from his home in Essex after earlier meeting cult recruiters, Australians Susan and Roland Gianstefani, while out shopping with his grandmother, Ruth Kelly.

Mrs Kelly began High Court action to have him returned to her, and in the process, Bobby was made a ward of the court.

The Gianstefanis were arrested in London last week and charged with contempt of court for defying a ruling to reveal where Bobby was staying.

Two other sect members, who were with Bobby when he was found, also were arrested.

They appeared in the High Court late last week, but all escaped a six-month jail sentence when they apologised to the court, and after Bobby made a personal plea to the judge.

In a note to the court Bobby said the Gianstefanis had acted ``nobly" because they did not want a cult ``deprogrammer to get his hands on me".

The High Court will decide Bobby's fate, but will play ``close attention" to what he wants and whether he wishes to return to the cult.

At the cult's run-down headquarters in Newcastle, Mr McKay said: ``This whole fiasco began because the media became convinced we were a dangerous cult, and it's all total nonsense. It's time the truth finally came out."

He said he would continue efforts to ensure Bobby was allowed to rejoin if he wanted to, and come to Australia ``perhaps when he is 18".

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