The teenage runaways who eloped from their boarding school last week have been found safe and well at a five-star resort in the Caribbean, police confirmed today.
Edward Bunyan, 16, and Indira Gainiyeva, 17, have been staying at the Occidental Grand resort in Punta Cana, some 250 miles from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, where police originally thought they had gone. Edward has been reunited with his mother Susannah, who went to Punta Cana on Sunday.
Yesterday police in the Dominican Republic said the couple had used their credit cards in the hotel but had since fled. However a search of the area located the pair on Sunday evening.
A Lancashire police spokesman said: "The students have thankfully been located safe and well at a hotel in the Punta Cana area of the Dominican Republic. Plans are now being made for their safe return to the UK.
"They will be given a welfare de-brief by police following their arrival back in this country.
“Our priority throughout this has been to ensure the safety and welfare of these students and after they have been spoken to on their return this will signal an end of police involvement in this matter.”
Edward's mother is expected to fly home with the couple later today.
Andrew Johnson, the head teacher of Stonyhurst, said he was "absolutely delighted" his students had been found, but refused to say what disciplinary measures they would face.
He said: ""Over the coming days we will be having discussions with the two young people and their families about what has happened and also what happens next. However, it is simply too early at the moment to speculate about the future."
The Occidental Grand hotel has 852 rooms, eight bars, three “lagoon style” pools and an impressive beach side location. It also has tennis courts, nine themed restaurants, scuba diving facilities, seven bars and live nightly shows as well as a spa and gym.
Indira’s father Ravil, 50, had said he would not block his daughter's credit card because he did not want her to be “forced to be a tramp”.
The couple went missing on Monday last week from the £30,000-a-year Stonyhurst College in Clitheroe, Lancashire, after telling friends they were sick of the rain and cold.
Ramon Brito, spokesman for the Dominican Republic police, said: “Their credit cards were used at the Occidental Hotel in Punta Cana - it’s a very large five star hotel.
“It’s the first time that anything like this has happened, to the best of my knowledge."
The hotel’s website boasts of “a tranquil atmosphere and Spanish-style architecture” which is surrounded by “tropical gardens offering breathtaking views of Bavaro Beach”.
“This resort is ideal for families, couples, and newlyweds seeking to combine rest and relaxation with fun and entertainment,” it states.
The Occidental is used by Thompson, the tour operator, for all-inclusive breaks. A seven-night stay at the resort, in a junior suite flying from Manchester Airport, costs around £1,600 per person.
The families of both teenagers have spoken of their concern but are said to want to resolve the situation with minimal fuss and publicity.
Edward’s father, a civil engineer, died from cancer in 2007 aged 85. His mother Susannah, Mr Bunyan’s third wife who is in her 50s, then enrolled Edward at Stonyhurst before moving nearer her family in Spain. She now lives in Canada.
Indira’s family did not know she was in a relationship with Edward, who calls himself Eddy.