A young girl who was taken illegally from England three years ago and eventually brought to Toronto has been found and returned to her father.

Police say seven-year-old Pearl Gavaghan Da Massa, who disappeared from her home in Manchester in 2008, was found in Montreal. Her mother was taken into custody, and the child flown back to England.

Police and the girl's father suspected that the mother, Helen Gavaghan, abducted the child, taking her to Mexico and the United States before bringing her to Toronto. The two lived in Parkdale last year.

Gavaghan and the girl's father, Henry Da Massa, had joint custody of Pearl at the time the mother and daughter disappeared.

For a period last year, Henry Da Massa also lived in Toronto, hoping to find Pearl and making public appeals for her return. A Canadian organization posted a $10,000 reward for information that might lead to her. Although a tip led police to a shelter in Parkdale in February 2010, the mother and daughter had fled.

Gavaghan has not told her side of the story publicly, but a former neighbour in Parkdale said the mother is devastated by the latest events. Doug Johnson Hatlem said Gavaghan called him from the detention centre in Montreal where she's being held.

"Helen was led to believe that she'd have a chance to fight this in court and led to believe that [she] would get to see her daughter periodically," Hatlem told CBC News on Monday. "Instead, she was told that she was already on a plane."