Belfast Telegraph

Community left ‘gripped by fear’ after attempted child abductions

By Michelle Smyth

“I think you are the person my mummy told me about; I think you are a bad man.”

These are the words a nine-year-old boy said when he was approached by a man in a dark-coloured car in Newtownabbey's Rathcoole estate last Tuesday.

The boy was approached on his own street — Green Walk — as he made his way home from the local youth club.

The incident is the fourth attempted abduction reported to police in Newtownabbey since the start of October.

Similar incidents are reported to have occurred on Fernagh Avenue, Queens Park and Tulleevin Walk. All four incidents occurred within a three-mile radius of each other.

The boy's mother, Susan Logan, said her son was standing at the end of the street at around 8.30pm waiting to cross the road when a man pulled up in a car and asked him if he was “lonely”.

“My son said yes because he had just fallen out with one of his friends. The man then asked if he would like to go bowling and get some ice cream. My son then told him, ‘I think you are the person my mummy told me about; I think you are a bad man'. The driver of the car then put the foot down and sped off,” she said.

Susan explained that her son then ran back to the youth club |because he did not want the man to know where he lived.

“He told us nothing about the incident until the next day, but we knew something was up because he was very quiet. We had been discussing the April Jones case at home and are always harping on about the danger of strangers.

“My son is traumatised by what happened ... he now doesn't feel safe in his own street; that is no way for a kid to live,” Susan added.

The mother of four said she believes the perpetrator must know the local area well, as the street her son was approached on is a short-cut back onto the main road, and added that the whole neighbourhood is now “gripped by fear”.

The Rathcoole estate was quiet yesterday except for the normal hustle and bustle of people |running errands. Kate Davies, who was on her way home from the shops with two young children in tow, said that many in the area are terrified.

“I haven't let my son step over the door on his own since these incidents came to light,” she said.

Rathcoole community worker and PUP member Phil Hamilton said: “There is a lot of frustration and fear in the area at the minute.

“Rathcoole may have a bad reputation, but I have never seen it like this,” he added.

A police spokesman confirmed the PSNI is investigating all four reports, but due to contrasting descriptions could not say if they are linked.

Anyone who notices suspicious activity is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000 or on 999.

Timeline of terrifying incidents

October 10: The latest incident occurred when a 10-year-old boy was approached by a man in the Tulleevin Walk area. The man pulled up in a large dark blue van at around 7.45pm. The man is described as being approximately 5ft 6in and was wearing a black top with the hood up and black trousers tucked into black boots.

October 2: Susan Logan's nine-year-old son was approached by a man in a dark blue car on Green Walk in the Rathcoole Estate. The man, who is described as being middle aged, pulled up beside the child at around 8.30pm.

October 2: An 11-year-old boy was approached around 8.30am in the Queens Park area by a man in a silver Jeep.

October 1: An eight-year-old boy was approached by a man in a dark car in Fernagh Avenue around 7.50pm.

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