Mother of toddler kidnapped from Primark 'thought teenage girls were sweet'

The girls will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court.
The girls will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court.

The mother of a toddler who was snatched from a Primark by two teenage girls banged her head on a wall in distress when she realised what had happened, a court has heard.

The 13 and 14-year-olds had been playing with the little girl for 15 minutes in a display which the mother believed was "sweet" before they enticed her away with sweets, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

The kidnappers had skipped school and spent hours in the Primark in Northumberland Street, Newcastle, waiting for a child to abduct on April 13.

They had already approached two others, and almost tricked the mother of one of them when they tried to lead her daughter away. They had engaged that child's mother by saying the little one was "beautiful" and asking whether she could speak.

Sarah Barlow, prosecuting, told the court they later grabbed another girl, and walked out of the store, leaving her mother devastated.

Miss Barlow said: "She was described by one witness as banging her head against a wall, she was so utterly distraught."

Mr Justice Globe, who was junior prosecution counsel in the trial of James Bulger's killers, was shown CCTV of the brightly lit shop and the girls approaching shoppers. The Crown Prosecution Service has said this CCTV will not be released to the media.

Miss Barlow said the film demonstrated the two kidnappers were "working together, quite co-ordinated" and showed "a degree of planning or at least communication between the two".

At times the girls left the Primark store and briefly went into a Boots store. They later admitted stealing a dummy, baby milk and a bottle.

They returned to the clothes store and went to the children's section where at around 4pm they began talking to their victim.

Miss Barlow said: "They offered her sweets. That's indicative of the level of planning, they had taken with them things likely to attract a child to them.

"They were playing with her.

"(The toddler) was running to and from the girls.

"Her mother was not suspicious, she simply thought the girls were playing with her daughter and were being quite sweet.

"This went on for some 15 minutes."

But then the girls took the toddler into a lift and out of the store, holding hands with the older defendant, before they headed straight on to the Metro system and around three miles away to the suburb of Gosforth.

A shopper saw the defendants, who are white, with the toddler who was described in court as "mixed-race", and she believed it did not look "quite right", Miss Barlow said.

When she asked if the girl was all right, one of the kidnappers said everything was fine.

Miss Barlow said the CCTV from the lift showed the girls looking anxious, indicating "they knew at that stage what they were doing was wrong".

On the Metro system, witnesses saw them giving the girl sweets and offering her Coca-Cola.

One of them was overheard saying: "Don't worry, we will get you to your mummy."

Miss Barlow added: "Of course she was not, she was travelling in the opposite direction."

Once they arrived in Gosforth, they tried to take her to a soft play area but were not allowed in, then went to a Sainsbury's where they stole the bottle and milk in an attempt to keep the toddler quiet.

They then took her to the swings in a park beside the High Street.

Miss Barlow said the little girl was located "mercifully, relatively swiftly" after a description was circulated, and CCTV was examined.

The sentencing hearing continues on Monday afternoon.

Both girls admitted kidnap at a previous hearing. They have indicated a basis of plea but were not willing to be questioned about it, the judge was told.

After they were arrested, police found a tablet which contained internet searches about "rape" and references to African women.

A charge relating to sexual intent was dropped at a previous hearing.

Neither the girls nor their victim can be identified for legal reasons.