Runaway Briton 'kidnapped in Spain'

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A Briton is thought to have keen kidnapped in Spain by men posing as police officers.

The parents of Merseyside man Francis Brennan, 25, have appealed for information about his disappearance last month.

Mr Brennan was last seen in Alicante on January 24 when he was stopped in a friend's car by several men who posed as officers.

The Spanish authorities believe he was then taken against his will.

Mr Brennan fled the UK for Spain ahead of a sentencing date last October for an assault he committed in the Thames Valley area in 2012.

His girlfriend, Sophie Staunton, went out to Javea, Alicante, in December to persuade him to return home before he went missing a month later.

His parents, Carl and Janet, have appealed to the public here and the British ex-pat community in Spain to come forward with any information that could lead to his safe return.

They said: "We got a call from one of his friends and his girlfriend back in January to say that Francis had been arrested on January 24 but we later learnt from the Spanish authorities that this was not the case and that he had been taken against his will.

"This has come as an awful shock to us as Francis is our only son and we can still remember him as a fun-loving child who was football-mad in a football-mad family who loved nothing more than playing out with his friends."

They said they had pleaded with him not to leave the country but he did not listen.

"He told us not to worry and that he would be home after Christmas," they said.

"Francis met Sophie, his lovely girlfriend, in 2012 and he seemed to start to grow up and they seemed very settled and happy.

"Sophie went out to Javea in December to try and persuade him to come home but then last month he disappeared and none of us know where. This whole thing has devastated all of us.

"No-one deserves this to happen to them and as time goes by we are worrying even more on a daily basis. Francis comes from a very loving and caring background and we all want him home safe and well.

"We are pleading with anyone out there who knows what has happened to please speak up, please come forward and share that information with the police or Crimestoppers so we can get our son back safe."

Detective Superintendent Richie Carr, from Merseyside Police, said: "Francis has not been seen since and this is clearly of great concern to the family and the authorities in both the UK and Spain.

"Francis's disappearance is completely out of character and because of this, as well as his associations and lifestyle, ourselves and the Spanish police are extremely concerned for his safety.

"We do however believe he has been taken against his will and we and his family are hopeful that someone in the criminal fraternity here in Merseyside has information that could help bring about the safe return of Francis.

"Francis has been missing for over a month now. He is in a country that is not his own. It is not familiar to him and has no other family over there.

"His parents have travelled there already to try and find him and they are here today desperately seeking answers.

"Francis is their son. Only a parent will be able to understand what it could be like to fear your child coming to some kind of harm.

"I would urge anyone out there, whether it is here in Merseyside or within the ex-pat community in Spain, who knows anything at all that could help this family to please search their consciences and call Merseyside Police on 0151 777 8520 or alternatively Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. "

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