Gardaí launch probe after 'couple tried to lead toddler (3) away'
Published 09/08/2016 | 02:30
Gardaí have launched an investigation into an allegation that a three-year-old girl was the victim of a suspicious approach in south Dublin.
As part of the probe, officers will review footage recorded by a film crew at the festival where the alleged incident took place.
The father of the toddler, Graham O'Doherty, said he was "sick to his stomach" when he learned about the incident.
Officers at Dún Laoghaire Garda Station are investigating a complaint that the child was led away to an isolated car during the kite and balloon festival in Sandycove in Dublin on July 30.
Mr O'Doherty's young daughter was standing near to her grandfather when she was approached by a woman.
"They were in a designated green area for flying kites and my daughter was playing with other kids," he said.
"My father was fixing a kite and keeping an eye on my daughter when he saw her take the hand of a strange woman and they walked away. By the time my father reached them the woman had joined a man and they were heading towards a parked car in a desolate car park. The car was positioned beside an exit so it could get a quick getaway," Mr O'Doherty explained.
Mr O'Doherty said the couple, who were in their late twenties, were "shocked" when his father ran over to them.
"The woman said 'Oh, is this your child?' They were shocked that they were approached because they were walking away from all activity," he said.
Mr O' Doherty said when he asked his daughter what had happened she told him the lady offered her a "snowball sweet" and asked her if she wanted to go on a hot-air balloon ride.
"You'd like to tell yourself it was innocent but it all adds up to something sinister. My daughter, while she's only three, she wouldn't embellish the story because she didn't know anything was wrong.
"It took a while for me and my wife to process it. We were dumbfounded. It's a cliché but I was sick to my stomach," he added.
It is understood that the complaint was not reported to gardaí on the day of the alleged incident but gardaí were notified about it the following day, July 31.
The little girl's grandfather then gave gardaí a full statement on the incident on August 1.