Man quizzed by police after approach to girls

Man quizzed by police after approach to girls

9 January 2019

A MAN who was arrested following reports of a suspicious approach to two young girls in the Fountain Street area in Downpatrick last week has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

Reports emerged last Thursday afternoon that a man in his 40s had tried to lure a 13 year-old girl and her friend into his car close to a children’s playground.

The mother of one of the girls said her daughter had been left “petrified” by what happened, explaining the girl had asked to go to the play park with her friend, which was a regular occurrence.

“Once they got there, I got a call from my daughter who was crying and upset, asking me to stay on the phone as they were scared,” said the mother.

“A male with neat, white-grey hair and no beard approached them and asked them to come with him in his car and that he would take them to play.

“The girls said ‘no’ and he asked them again. At this point my daughter phoned me and I ran up to the park to meet them. Thankfully the park is around the corner so I didn’t have far to go.”

The Downpatrick mum has urged parents to keep an eye on their children and praised her daughter and her friend for how they handled the situation.

“Thankfully, both girls knew what to do and were incredibly smart and brave. Please keep an eye on your kids and make sure they know what to do in a situation like this,” she added.

South Down MLA Colin McGrath has described reports of the suspicious approach to the two young girls as “worrying”.

He continued: “We want to create spaces in our communities where children are safe. They should be free to play and use playgrounds free from the threat from any adult.

“The report suggesting a man approached two young girls at the Fountain Court playground and encouraged them to get into a car with him is worrying. This is often something we only hear of in the news and taking place somewhere else, not in our community.”

Mr McGrath appealed to anyone with information about what happened to contact police and praised local officers for their swift action in dealing with the incident.

He added: “A swift response in such matters is always necessary and of comfort to the children and family involved and to the wider community.”

Anyone who believes they can assist police with their enquires is asked to contact them in Downpatrick using the 101 non emergency number, quoting reference number 678 3/1/19. 

Information can also be passed anonymously using the confidential Crimestoppers number 0800 555111.

Meanwhile, police are investigating reports that an 11 year-old Newcastle schoolboy was approached by a man yesterday morning.

The man is understood to have been driving a dark coloured car and reportedly asked the child to get into the vehicle so he could take him to school after he stopped in the Shimna Road area at around 9am.

Police, who say the boy “did exactly the right thing by running away and going straight to school”, want to hear from the driver involved.

Officers are also keen to hear from anyone who may have been in the area at the time the schoolboy was approached and may have witnessed the exchange.

Anyone who can help is asked to contact police on the non emergency 101 number quoting reference 244 of 08/01/19. Information can also be passed on using the confidential Crimestoppers number 0800 555111.