Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland mum's anguish as stranger tries to snatch girl (12) on walk to school

By Claire Williamson

A mother has told of the terrifying moment her 12-year-old daughter was "grabbed" by a man as she walked to school close to her home.

Heather McLean said Molly, a first year pupil at Bangor Academy, was taking her usual route to school when she was approached, just five minutes from her house.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Ms McLean said: "She walked down towards Valentine Playing Fields and as she was walking down the street where the houses are, she noticed a man behind her.

"She sped up and then once she got through the alleyway, he grabbed her by the arm. And she managed to shake him off and ran back to the house."

Molly arrived home in tears and told her shocked family what had happened.

Ms McLean said: "I didn't know whether to go and look for him, phone the police or what to do. I chose the police and they had a look about. But she didn't really see him too well, and I know there is no chance police would ever be able to catch him.

"But I just want to let other parents know."

Ms McLean said she didn't let her children walk to or from school in the winter when it's darker - but she couldn't believe it had happened in broad daylight in the morning.

"It's scary you can't even let your children walk to school these days without something like that happening," she added.

"She's all right because she's in the house with us. I'm not sure she'll be too willing to go out and about walking by herself in a hurry.

"She's only 12, I would be frightened if it was me - it's just horrible.

"You sit back and think what was his intention and what if she didn't get away? It doesn't bear thinking about."

The brave student went into school yesterday despite her ordeal, but her mum collected her afterwards.

Ms McLean added: "It was so close to home, it's not like she wandered far off, she was five minutes from her front door.

"Just be aware, you think your kids are all right making their way to school and you try to give them independence when they are a bit older.

"You think they are okay going to school because it's daylight, but obviously not. These people don't care - if they are going to try and do these things in broad daylight."

Bangor Academy issued a warning to students and parents after the incident was reported yesterday morning.

The school said: "There has been a report that one of our students was approached in a threatening manner by a stranger in the Whitehill area.

"Police have been informed. Please can you remind your children of the importance of personal safety and report any suspicious behaviour.

"If you have any concerns please contact us as soon as possible."

The suspect is described as about 40. He was wearing a dark black or green hoodie with the hood up.

The PSNI said it received the report of a suspicious approach in the Hill Crest area just after 8.30am.

A spokesman said: "Enquiries into this report are currently ongoing. Police in the Bangor area would ask anyone with any information regarding this incident to contact Newtownards police station on the non-emergency number 101 quoting reference 217 of the 01/06/17. Or, alternatively if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."

Last year Bangor schools issued a series of warnings over "inappropriate approaches".

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