‘My son was nearly snatched while out Christmas shopping’.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A RATHFRILAND mum-of-five is warning parents to be vigilant while out Christmas shopping after a man tried to "take her son".

Emma Mills was shopping in Tesco in Banbridge on Saturday evening (9 December) when a man "touched her son's face" and made an attempt to pull him away.

"I just want to warn parents to be extra careful now it's a lot busier when they are out shopping over Christmas with their children," she said.

"I was in Tesco on the Castlewellan Road around 6pm-6.30pm when an old man tried to take my son. I was shopping with my son Jamie (6) and daughter Hollie (8). They were beside me the whole time as I've always told them to stay beside us when we are in shops or out in public as you hear that many scary stories, stories that I never thought I would experience.

"While we were shopping an old man kept following us around the store. I didn't really notice him as I was trying to get a few bits gathered up to get home again but then I kept seeing him when I went up each aisle.

He was just standing there with no basket or trolley.

"When I was walking around looking at the shelves with the kids standing beside me, he first touched my son's face then on round the shop he pulled on my son's arm. My daughter then pulled on my son's other arm and when she was doing this, the man went 'pist pist' to try and get her away.

"Then on round the shop he carried on following us. He kept looking at my kids, smiling and laughing at them. It scared the life out of them, neither of them said anything to me till we got to the car park.

"My son then said 'Mummy, that old man scared me, he wouldn't leave me alone in that shop'.

"This man had been doing this all when I was looking at the shelves. My partner then went to the security guard in Tesco to tell them what had just happened." CCTV was checked in the store and Ms Mills contacted police.

"I could not believe what had just happened, it scared the life out of me that you aren't safe to go into a shop with your children to do shopping and there are monsters out there doing things like this.

"The police came and met us at Tesco car park, spoke to my kids and then checked CCTV in Tesco. Police said whether it was intentional or maybe due to an illness that the man has, it's still not acceptable to touch a child."

Emma added that it was imperative that adults teach their children about 'stranger danger'.

"I'd also like to thank my kids' school, Iveagh Primary for teaching the pupils to be aware of strangers.

"The police officer couldn't believe she knew what to do. She knew to help and pull on her brother's other arm. If she hadn't, it could have been a different story which doesn't bear thinking about.

"It's scary to think that something like this can happen that quickly. It has made me wary of taking my wee ones into shops again, I'll always be on the lookout now."

A PSNI spokesman confirmed police received a report of a suspicious approach to children in commercial premises on the Castlewellan Road area of Banbridge on Saturday (9 December).

"The incident is reported to have occurred at around 5.30pm. Enquiries are continuing," said the spokesman.


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