'I saw a man stand over my child, he had his hands beside her'- horrified mother woken by intruder during the night
A mother who woke to see a man standing over her bed was horrified to learn he had instructed her daughter to "come with me" before being chased off in the middle of the night.
Catherine McCracken was dozing when she saw the intruder in blue jeans and black socks "tip-toe past" her bed at around 2.30am on Saturday.
She assumed it was her partner Paul getting up to have a cigarette in their home at Drumbeg in Craigavon, Co Armagh.
But when she suddenly realised that he didn't own a pair of jeans she bolted awake in terror.
"I got very frightened at this point and did not want to open my eyes but I knew I had to," she said.
"As I looked up I saw a man stand over my child, he had his hands down beside her."
The terrified woman received no response when she spoke to the stranger.
"I said: 'Who are you?' He did not move," she wrote on social media.
"I shouted again in a louder voice: 'Who are you?' He moved towards me and I screamed for my partner."
Ms McCracken gave chase to the intruder who made off down the stairs and out through the front door. She later discovered that ladders were positioned against the porch of her next door neighbour's property. Police believe the intruder gained access through her son's upstairs bedroom window, which had been left open.
However, the most disturbing details emerged later in the morning when her daughter revealed what she remembered.
"She told me a man rubbed her hair in a circular motion... he tried to lift her," Ms McCracken said.
"She said he had black gloves, they looked like daddy's gloves, but she knew it wasn't her daddy. He said to her: 'Come with me'.
"Then she heard me shout at him."
Ms McCracken also revealed on social media that her daughter is waiting to speak to specially trained detectives.
"My child is still upset," she added.
Ms McCracken said she felt "very lucky" the intruder did not succeed in abducting her daughter. She also said she had been notified that forensic experts have identified glove smudges on both sides of her son's window pane, as well as a footprint on the window sill.
"My nerves are away," she added. The traumatised mum issued a chilling warning to other parents, urging them to secure their homes.
"The next child might not be as lucky," she said.
"Make sure all upstairs windows are locked."
The PSNI said nothing was taken from the property during the "very disturbing incident", which had left the homeowner "understandably terrified".
"This would be a petrifying ordeal for anyone, but more so for a parent with children to protect," police added.
The culprit is described as a white, tall male with a skinhead and aged in his late 20s.
He was wearing a cream shirt and blue jeans.
Many parents have expressed shock on social media following the sinister incident.
"You're not even safe in your own bed at night now," one woman wrote. Others expressed fear that a predator might still be on the loose.
Upper Bann SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said the "frightening incident" had shocked the local community.
"We all believe ourselves to be safest in our homes," she said.
"It doesn't bear to think about what may have been.
"The intruder must be apprehended as quickly as possible."
DUP councillor Margaret Tinsley urged the community to rally round in support of the victim who, she said, will need lots of reassurance over the coming days.
The Craigavon representative said her thoughts were with Ms McCracken.
"I had sickness in my stomach when I found out what happened," she said.
Detectives have appealed for anyone who was in the area at the time to call 101.
"There is a mum out there who will no doubt lie awake tonight worrying," they said.
"Help us keep her safe.
"Help us find out who is responsible."