THE father of a two-year-old toddler abducted from a High Street clothes store by girls aged 13 and 14 has claimed the kidnappers used sweets as part of their plan to entice his daughter away.
The girls admitted a charge of kidnap after they walked off with the child and were only found three miles away an hour-and-a-half later, after their descriptions were circulated in a major police operation.
It can now be reported that their victim was the second child they intended to grab from the Primark store in Newcastle, having tried unsuccessfully to trick another girl’s mother. In both cases they picked on black children.
At a previous court hearing, details emerged of alarming internet searches about “rape” that police found on a tablet computer.
A charge of kidnap with intent to commit a relevant sexual offence was discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service, as the teenagers’ pleas to the alternative kidnap charge were accepted.
The kidnapped child was reunited with her mother unharmed after the abductors were traced by CCTV camera operators from the city centre, on to the Metro system and along Gosforth High Street, into a park.
They had also stolen dummies, baby milk and a bottle to use as part of their plan on April 13.
After the girls admitted the charges at a youth court hearing at North Shields, North Tyneside, the toddler’s father claimed her mother will “never forget the guilt” of losing her.
He said: “Her mother was on the phone and our daughter was in her pram. They offered her sweets, she was hysterical and they got her out and started playing with her around the shop.”
He added that his daughter was unharmed and unlikely to remember anything of the abduction.
The kidnappers’ guilty pleas still did not explain their motive, he admitted, adding: “The question remains: what was their intention?”
He also praised the operation to find his daughter, saying: “Thankfully, the police did an amazing job and the people of Newcastle as a city came together.”
At a previous youth court hearing in South East Northumberland in April, it was said that after the girls were arrested, a tablet computer was found containing searches for “rape”, “people getting raped”, “young people getting raped”, “poor little thing getting kidnapped and raped”.
Lee Poppett, prosecuting, told the previous hearing: “There is several links to ‘African woman sexual activity’ and the young child in this case is black.”
The girls, who the media are prevented from identifying, have no criminal record and have never been arrested or cautioned. They were known to social services and had gone missing before.
Two police officers who saw the circulated description of the abductors thought they recognised them and contacted the officer in charge of the search to say they often hung around Gosforth Central Park, where they were found.
District Judge Roger Elsey adjourned the case for reports to be made. The girls were remanded into the care of the local authority and will be back before the youth court on July 4.