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A British dad-of-two is being hunted by police after allegedly abducting his own three-year-old twin daughters in France.
Photographer John Patterson, 46, is believed to have disappeared with little Ava and Mia after splitting from their mum, Aleksandra Pietrasiewicz.
Now, prosecutors in Metz believe he might have taken the youngsters from his home in the north-eastern city back to Britain.
An arrest warrant has been issued for the father, originally from Coventry, who was seen in Luxembourg before the alarm was raised.
"He has not been seen for three weeks since being allowed a weekend with the children," said a source involved in the investigation.
"The mother has sole custody of the girls, but Mr Patterson had access rights. He is accused of using them to take the girls away towards the end of March."
Searches have taken places around John’s flat in Metz.
However, there has so far been no sign of him nor the girls.
The source added: "The twins were born prematurely in Nancy, and they regularly need antibiotics."
Aleksandra, a recruitment consultant, believes her former long-term partner was last seen in the car park of Luxembourg railway station with the twins.
She says that John, from whom she split last September, picked the children up from her house on March 29. He was meant to return them on April 1.
However, when John did not bring the youngsters home, Aleksandra raised an alert with the police and is now searching for them.
The 32-year-old mum said: "John needs to think about the girls first – and start to think like a dad and not a child abductor.
"The life of our children is at risk, and he should think about that before he thinks about himself.
"The girls have very poor health, they were born at 29 weeks old and weighed just over 1kg each so they are very little.
"The last time I saw them was at 6pm on Thursday, March 29, and he had said he was returning them on Sunday, April 1 at 6pm. But he was last seen in Luxembourg from Saturday until Sunday with the girls in the car.
"I believe my children could be in danger, both with their physical health and psychological danger because they have hardly ever been separated from me, except for for a couple of days."
John’s mobile phone has been disconnected, and he has shut down all social media accounts.
Aleksandra added: "Myself and John had been together for over three years, but we had children very quickly and didn’t really get to know each other so the relationship didn’t work.
"We had a good lifestyle together, and John definitely lived the high-flyer life, but it was hard at times.
"One month before the girls were born, we moved from Warwick, where we had met, to France and lived together.
"I haven’t been able to speak to anyone in connection with John because he always told me he had no social circle or family.
"I just want the girls back."
The desperate mum has set up a Facebook page showing pictures of her girls and former partner, and is urging people to watch out for them.
Police in Luxembourg City have confirmed that they briefly arrested John on March 31, before he was released.
Aleksandra claimed her girls were already registered on a missing persons file.
She said: "The police had their hands on him but did nothing, even though the children were already registered on a missing persons file.
"John’s home in Metz is empty and there is no trace of his vehicle. There is a risk that he has moved with the girls to the UK or to another European country."
A spokesman for Metz prosecutors confirmed that ‘a judicial enquiry’ has been opened into the crime of abduction, and a European arrest warrant issued.
Judicial police are involved in the hunt for John and his daughters.
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