Gardai launch probe after 'couple tried to lead toddler (3) away'
A father said he was “sick to his stomach” when he heard his three-year-old daughter was led away to an isolated car during the kite and balloon festival in Sandycove in Dublin on July 30.
“My father was with my three-year-old daughter at the kite and balloon festival when she was approached,” Graham O’Doherty told Independent.ie.
“They were in a designated green area for flying kites and my daughter was playing with other kids.
“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 another 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."
Graham told Independent.ie that his father ran over to the couple who were in their late twenties.
“The woman said “oh is this your child?” They were shocked that they were approached because they were walking away from all activity.”
Graham said when he asked his daughter what had happened she told him the lady offered her a “snowball sweet that tasted like strawberries” and asked her is 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.
“It’s something you’d never expect to happen so near your home. It’s something that might happen on holidays.”
Graham said he didn’t want to cause “unnecessary panic” but that he urges parents to be vigilant.
“Ultimately we’re relieved she’s ok. However horrific it might have been it wasn’t.
“It does happen, kids can run off. My daughter is very sociable too so it’s something we have to be aware of without killing her spirit.”
Graham said he and his wife were away for their anniversary at the time of the incident but when they returned home on Sunday July 31 they reported the incident to the gardai.
He said his mother and father made a statement to the gardai on Monday August 1.
Gardai in Dun Laoghaire said their investigation into the incident is ongoing.