Man arrested after attempt to ‘grab’ children

Appeal for witnesses
Appeal for witnesses

A 59-year-old has been arrested after a man tried to “entice” two primary school pupils into a car, before trying to “grab” one of the children.

The incident happened at Dromore Street in Banbridge, Co Down today.

St Mary's Primary School

St Mary's Primary School

The children resisted and the man drove off, the Principal of St Mary’s Primary School in Banbridge, Des O’Hagan, said in a letter to parents following the incident.

In his letter, Mr O’Hagan said: “We wish to inform you of a serious incident involving two of our senior pupils.

“This morning at 8.35am in Dromore Street, just past St Patrick’s church, the children were approached by a man driving a red, older style four door VW Golf.

“He is described as being in his mid to late 50’s, red faced, with short grey/white hair and a large nose, and wearing a blue top. He initially asked the children for directions, then he tried to entice the children into the car with sweets and money. Failing this, the man tried to grab one of the children. Both children resisted and pulled away from him and the man drove off.”

The school principal said the PSNI had been informed.

Mr O’Hagan continued: “Although frightened and shocked by their experience, the children acted appropriately and sensibly and demonstrated amazing courage. They reported the incident immediately and were able to give confident, accurate descriptions and information to the PSNI.

“Within our pastoral curriculum we teach and regularly reinforce the ‘Stranger Danger’ message. As a direct response to the events of this morning, we held assemblies to reiterate this message and advise what the children should do if placed in this type of situation.”

He added: “Thankfully this type of incident is very rare and hopefully this advice will never be needed. However, as this morning proved, this education is vitally important. Please spend some time talking to your child and reinforcing this at home.

As part of the Sustrans Active Schools Programme we still wish to encourage our children to walk or cycle to school. However, following today’s incident, we recommend that children walk or cycle to school in groups with adult supervision. Do not let your child walk to school or walk home alone. Please be vigilant”

A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “A 59 year old man has been arrested by officers investigating a reported suspicious approach in Banbridge.

“The male was detained this afternoon following a report that a man had approached two children in the Dromore Road area at around 8.35am this morning.”

The spokesperson added: “He remains in custody at present.”