Sunday 25 March 2018

Abduction case told boy (11) restrained in sleeping bag

Thomas Pfeiffer has appeared in court.
Thomas Pfeiffer has appeared in court.

Ciaran Murphy

THE mother of an 11-year-old German student who was allegedly abducted for two nights has told a court she was livid when she discovered her son had been staying with a 51-year-old man rather than the host family that had been arranged.

The man, Dr Thomas Pfeiffer, a German academic who worked at the Waterford Institute of Technology, has pleaded not guilty to the boy's abduction and three counts of false imprisonment.

Dr Pfeiffer, a doctor of computer science with an address at Meadowview, Coolfin, Portlaw, Co Waterford, picked up the 11-year-old German boy at Dublin Airport on January 31, 2009.

The court heard how the boy was put into a harness placed in a booster seat in his car and driven to Dr Pfeiffer's home.

The boy, who had travelled from Berlin, had arrived in Ireland as part of a programme advertised as "English – K12" in order to improve his English.

It is the prosecution's case that the boy and his family understood that he would be taken directly to his host family in Tramore. However, he spent two days with Dr Pfeiffer at his Co Waterford home.

Among the allegations are that Dr Pfeiffer measured and weighed the boy before he put him to bed.

The boy previously testified at the Circuit Criminal Court that his hands and legs were restrained in allotted sections in a sleeping bag and that he was unable to get out of it.


He said that both the harness and sleeping bag "inhibited my movement". He added: "It made me feel uncomfortable."

Speaking through a translator, the boy's mother told the court of her anger when she discovered he had spent the weekend at Dr Pfeiffer's house.

She said she called the mother of the host family and told her she did not want her son to have any further dealings with Dr Pfeiffer during his five-month stay. The mother of the host family had a Confirmation that weekend and had indicated that she would not be able to take the boy until the Monday.

The boy was to have spent that weekend with the family of a man named Liam Cahill at an address in Carrick-on-Suir.

Postal worker James Walsh told the court he had "never heard" of the man or his family or a location supplied named "Riversbend".

The boy's mother also said that she had been in contact with both Dr Pfeiffer and apparently another woman, Barbara O'Neill, with an address at Meadowview in Coolfin, to arrange the stay. However, another postal worker, Margaret O'Brien, in evidence said she had never seen a woman of that name at the address.

Meanwhile, €1,260 had been handed over, with €1,000 for the organisation and €260 for transport to and from the airport. The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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