Dad’s anger after man is arrested for attempted kidnapping over bizarre incident in Doncaster shopping centre

A dad feared his infant daughter would be kidnapped when a stranger randomly scooped up the young child into his arms in a busy shopping centre.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 11:18 am

The drama unfolded when Anthony Maddison visited a phone shop at Doncaster's Frenchgate Centre with his daughter Francesca.

St. Sepulchre Gate and Frenchgate, Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Town Centre MC 1

The dad was walking out of the store as his three-year-old toddled a short distance behind him.

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But when he turned to hold her hand as they made their way out of the doors and back into the busy shopping centre she was gone.

Mr Maddison looked up to see a man had swept his young daughter up into his arms.

And when he confronted him, the man bizarrely told him: “This is my daughter.”

Anthony Maddison and daughter Francesca who he says was nearly abducted in The Frenchgate Centre

He contacted police and officers arrived a short while later to arrest a 35-year-old man on suspicion of attempted kidnap.

Police let the man go as they could not establish any criminal intent but Mr Maddison described how the incident has left his daughter traumatised.

The 31-year-old lorry driver said: “I was shocked and couldn't believe it. I asked him what he was doing and he just said ‘This is my daughter', I told him that she isn't and to put her down immediately, which he did.

“I was so scared at the time and I thought someone had kidnapped her. She is scared to sleep in her bed now, she keeps asking if the man is going to get her – it's heartbreaking.”

The incident happened on the morning of Sunday, April 14, and Mr Maddison described the man as being eastern European looking, short and stocky, aged in his 30s and with dark hair. There was also a woman with him who was of a similar description.

Police swooped to detain the man but after reviewing CCTV coverage officers found no criminal intent and released him.

Mr Maddison posted details about the incident on Facebook to warn other parents about what happened and it has now been shared more than 15, 000 times.

The town centre resident is unhappy that police decided not to take the matter further and is writing a letter of complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

He said: “They basically put it down to cultural differences but I don't understand that.

“He picked up my daughter without her consent and she was very scared. I want them to re-open the case.

“I would also like to warn other parents to be wary and to watch out for people doing this.”

Shortly after the incident, Detective Inspector Steve Smith said: “We understand that this incident may have caused concerns amongst the community and I would like to reassure you that our officers take all reports of this nature seriously and this matter was investigated fully.”