Man kidnaps 7-year-old girl from supermarket during Christmas shopping, drags her to nearby bushes and sexually assaults her
The 26-year-old attacker, whose identity has not been revealed, has been arrested and charged in the incident
A 26-year-old Australian man has been charged with kidnapping a seven-year-old girl from inside a supermarket and then sexually assaulting the child behind some bushes. The man, whose identity has been kept under wraps and is reportedly a father of twins himself, was charged with taking a child for immoral purposes, deprivation of liberty, and indecent treatment of a child under 12 and made his first appearance in court this past week.
The incident, which unfolded at a Kmart store in North Lakes, west of Brisbane, was recalled by another mother in a Facebook post. She wrote that the young girl was abducted from the shop when her mother was right there and looking at something else. The child had reportedly been bringing toys she wanted for Christmas to show her mom and was running down the various aisles before suddenly disappearing.
The mother frantically looked for the seven-year-old but couldn't find her anywhere and called the police for assistance. She was gone for 1.5 hours before she was returned, with video footage revealing a man taking her out of the store and later returning her in a "dazed and drugged" state.
The Daily Mail reports that the attacker lured the girl outside before driving her to bushland in Pumicestone Passage and sexually assaulting her. He then drove her back to the store and dropped her before making his escape, though he was apprehended shortly after.
Another anonymous mother told the tabloid that she was with her eight-year-old daughter at the same Kmart at the time the man abducted the victim and that he seemed suspicious right from the beginning because he kept lurking inside the store and staring at her daughter.
"I never normally leave my daughter so I feel sick thinking about this," she was quoted saying. "There was a guy standing there leaning on the shelf... his eyes were just fixed on my daughter and he was only an arm's length away from her. I called for her and then he was startled, he looked at me and walked away. Straight away, I 100 percent had a gut feeling that something wasn't right... now that I know what happened I just feel sick."
She said she only found out about the kidnapping and sexual assault this past Monday, December 10, and that her "gut instinct" told her there was something off with the man. "Now that I know what happened... I just feel sick. I had a gut instinct that guy was really creepy. I just had the worst feeling," she said.
The Facebook post also pleaded with parents to not leave their children unsupervised. "Please please please do not leave children even for a second...This is way too close to home for me. I am always out with the two kids and would be a perfect target when I get distracted by one child and the other doesn't have my attention."
Commenting on the incident, Detective Superintendent Tony Fleming said, "Crimes in circumstances such as these are not common, but it is a timely reminder that a very small number of people could take advantage of an opportunity to harm a child. Children should be free to enjoy themselves, but it is important that we maintain appropriate vigilance of them and our surrounds."
The attacker faced his charges at the Pine Rivers Magistrate Court, with the hearing closed to the media. He is expected to make his next appearance on December 12.