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Ulster family's holiday horror after alleged bid to kidnap son

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 20/06/2015

A shocked father has spoken of the frightening moment when there was an alleged attempt to snatch his child during a family holiday
A shocked father has spoken of the frightening moment when there was an alleged attempt to snatch his child during a family holiday

A shocked father has spoken of the frightening moment when there was an alleged attempt to snatch his child during a family holiday.

The nightmare for Sean Paul McFarlane's family happened during a holiday in Cyprus.

The west Belfast dad said the incident happened on Tuesday, when his seven-year-old son Thomas and a friend were pulled off a wall where they were playing in the Anastasia Beach Complex.

"We were out on a boat trip and we came back and we came for our dinner at the hotel then went down for the night-time entertainment," he told the BBC Nolan show.

"The two kids were playing on a ramp at the side of a set."

Mr McFarlane (26) said another couple then noticed a man acting suspiciously in the area.

A fellow holidaymaker then ran over to the man alerting Mr McFarlane that he had pulled the two boys over the wall to the ground on the other side.

The police were then called to the hotel.

"The child was shaking like a leaf, he said the man had pulled him off the wall and said to him: 'Who are you here with? What age are you and where are you from?'" Mr McFarlane said.

It is believed a 19-year-old Bulgarian man was spoken to by officers and his mobile phone was inspected, but he was later released.

Mr McFarlane said he was lucky the couple had spotted the man acting suspiciously.

"Where would we have started looking? I'm so glad that couple were there. The child was a metre away from us. I turned my head for half a second. We are here on a holiday. We know to be aware of the roads and be on close guard and don't ever let any of the kids out of our sight. Only for that couple those two kids would have been gone."

He said his son has been left "shaken" by the incident.

"He has been very, very nervous and shook up. He's constantly looking behind him."

The family have been moved to another resort in Ayia Napa while other holidaymakers were also offered a new hotel in Paphos by Thomas Cook. A spokeswoman for the company said it requested an increased and immediate security presence at the hotel.

"The safety and welfare of our customers is always our first priority", she said. "Upon hearing about the incident, we immediately deployed our experienced resort team to the property to provide those customers in residence with individual support."

The tour operator later added: "The safety and welfare of our customers is always our first priority and upon hearing about the alleged incident, we immediately deployed our experienced resort team to the property to provide those customers in residence with individual support.

"On request, we assisted 16 customer bookings who wished to move to an alternative hotel and two families who travelled back to the UK early.

"Although there are conflicting reports as to what exactly occurred at the property, we would like to reassure all customers that we take all allegations incredibly seriously and we are continuing to work closely with our customers in resort and the local authorities.

"Any customers with concerns about future holidays at this hotel are asked to contact us directly so that we can deal with them personally and directly."

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