NEWS

Teenage Girls Charged With Kidnap After Three-Year-Old Taken From Primark In Newcastle

The girls were 13 and 14.

15/04/2016 09:17 | Updated 15 April 2016

Two teenage girls will appear in court charged with kidnap and other offences after a three-year-old girl was taken from a shop in Newcastle city centre.

The girls, aged 13 and 14, are accused of abducting the toddler from a Primark on Northumberland Street on Wednesday evening, the Press Association reported.

The pair, from Tyneside, were also charged with shoplifting dummies, baby milk and a bottle.

The child was eventually found nearly three miles away in Gosforth, north Newcastle, by a police officer.

Northumbria Police said they have also charged the girls, who have not been named, with two counts of shoplifting.

They are both charged with kidnap "with the intention of committing a relevant sexual offence" contrary to the Sexual Offences Act of 2003.

They also face two counts of theft from a shop - dummies from Boots and the milk and bottle from a Sainsbury's, all said to have been of an unknown value.

Joe Giddens/PA Archive
Two teenagers have been charged over the kidnap of a child from Primark

The girls, who cannot be identified, appeared before South East Northumberland Magistrates' Court, sitting as a youth court, for a hearing which lasted over 30 minutes.

The defendants were flanked by a male and a female security guard in the glass-fronted dock during the hearing.

The girls, wearing grey tracksuits, appeared to listen closely to the proceedings.

They spoke to quietly confirm their address and date of birth and to say they had understood the proceedings.

They were denied bail and were ordered to be tagged and remanded into local authority care, to live and sleep at an address, from 7pm to 7am.

No family members for the defendants or the alleged victim were in court.

District Judge Roger Elsey told them: "You appreciate that you are charged with very serious offences.

"I understand that you are not admitting these offences and you are not convicted of them."

He told them they must not discuss the case on social media.

The girls will appear before North Tyneside Youth Court on May 13.

In the meantime they must not enter Newcastle city centre.

Police were alerted to the girl's disappearance at around 5pm on Wednesday, triggering a city-wide search.

The teenagers had allegedly left the store with the toddler, leaving her mother "incredibly" distressed.

Officers trawled through CCTV from Newcastle City Council, local shops, Newcastle University, bus companies, the Metro and their own cameras in search of the child.

After searching for more than an hour the girl was found by a police community support officer and reunited with her mother.

The teenagers were arrested in Gosforth Central Park.

Chief Inspector Dave Gould thanked those involved in the response.

He said: "This has been an incredibly distressing time for the girl's family and specialist officers are working with and supporting the family.

"We mobilised all available local police resources to make sure the girl was found as quickly as possible and also included assistance from the public, and many of our partner agencies including Newcastle local authority and university as well as staff from retail premises, bus companies, train station and Metro system."

Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North, praised the police and the other organisations involved in quickly finding the girl, saying on Twitter that it was "every parent's nightmare".

A spokeswoman for Primark said they are "co-operating with the police on the investigation".

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