Alyssa's parents speak of relief

By Abby Gillies

Alyssa Barker (right) joins her parents Sam and Scott and sister Kashine at the Henderson Police Station earlier today. Photo / NZ Herald / Dean Purcell
Alyssa Barker (right) joins her parents Sam and Scott and sister Kashine at the Henderson Police Station earlier today. Photo / NZ Herald / Dean Purcell

The parents of Auckland toddler Alyssa Barker say they will think twice about letting strangers into their home after their daughter went missing with a family acquaintance for 36 hours.

Sam, 24, and Scott Barker, 40, were reunited with 18-month-old Alyssa at Waitakere Hospital last night after spending a frantic night and day waiting for news.

A good samaritan called police last night after recognising the woman and child staying with her as Skye Mason, 27, and Alyssa.

Mason, a family acquaintance, had been staying with the Barkers after they opened their home to someone in need.

The couple, who also have a younger daughter Kashine, told a press conference today they were overwhelmed with relief to have Alyssa back and were still getting over the shock of her disappearance.

"It just rips your heart out,'' said Mr Barker.

He was relieved "just to be able to touch her and see her again''.

Alyssa seemed unaware of the ordeal and was her usual bubbly self, said Mr Barker.

"She hasn't changed - nothing's changed. She's a very happy baby. She wakes up laughing and goes to sleep laughing.''

While they would continue to help others in need, Mrs Barker said she would be more cautious about having strangers in her home and "if they had my child I wouldn't let them out of my sight, that's for sure''.

Mason is a former girlfriend of Mrs Barker's cousin, and was in a car with him when he died in an accident about 10 years ago.

When they recently learnt she was sleeping on the streets, they reached out to her and offered her a place to stay on Wednesday.

"Everybody needs help sometime in their life with something and she was asking for help,'' said Mrs Barker.

During the first two days she showed little interest in the children, she said.

On Friday, Sam Barker was watching Alyssa and Mason playing in puddles outside their home near Kaukapakapa when they went around the corner and disappeared from view.

At first she thought nothing of it but when a search of the house and 4ha property failed to find them she became increasingly worried and contacted police.

The Barkers then spent a sleepless night worrying about their daughter, who they said easily befriended people.

Detective Sergeant Murray Free said it appeared the pair received rides from members of the public and went to the houses of two people Mason knew in Glen Eden.

"By the time they came to the realisation Alyssa wasn't her child and did the right thing and alerted the police we just missed picking her up. She walked off from that address on foot in the night time and we were unable to locate her,'' he said.

Police said a Swanson woman who took them in was watching the television news last night and recognised the pair.

She waited until they were asleep and called police at 9.15pm.

Alyssa was reunited with her parents after a check-up at Waitakere Hospital soon after.

Mr Free said Mason was in custody and would undergo a psychiatric assessment before appearing in court tomorrow to face a charge of abduction.


Alyssa was reunited with her parents after a check-up at Waitakere Hospital soon after.

Mason had met Alyssa's parents only recently but they decided that she needed help and took her in.

Detective Sergeant Murray Free said Mason was in custody and would undergo a psychiatric assessment before appearing in court tomorrow to face a charge of abduction.

- APNZ

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