Man arrested after schoolgirl left distressed in alleged attempted abduction

Man arrested after schoolgirl left distressed in alleged attempted abduction
Brendan Rees

Police have interviewed and released a man over an alleged attempted abduction of a teenage girl in a CBD laneway, which left her feeling fearful of seeing strangers in public.

The Year 9 student was walking along Hosier Lane with a group of classmates as part of a school excursion when an unknown man approached her at around 10.30am.

Police allege the man attempted to drag the teenager down the lane with him before a male passer-by intervened after pretending to be a teacher.

The girl was able to break free and flee the scene with two students in her group. She was not physically injured during the incident.

Following a police appeal to the public for information on December 13, a 37-year-old Thornbury man self-presented at a police station the next day.

He was arrested being interviewed and released pending further enquiries.

The victim, who wished to remain anonymous to protect her safety and privacy, bravely spoke of her ordeal in the company of her mother during a police press conference after detectives made a public appeal for help.

 

A girl is comforted by her mother after being grabbed by a man in Hosier Lane.

 

The girl said she was at Hosier Lane, a popular street art attraction, while visiting key landmarks in the city unsupervised as part of a school excursion when the man approached her.

“We were quite confused, but we didn’t think much of it, but he stayed and kept talking to us,” the girl said.

“He then started to talk about how I was very pretty and then he grabbed my arm and tried to pull me closer to him … then he stuck his head in my face and was talking about how only his ‘princess’ could touch his hair.”

 

My mind was all over the place. I wasn’t really aware of what was going at first and I didn't think much of it until he grabbed my arm and all I could think of was how hard he was holding onto me.

 

Luckily, the girl said a good Samaritan bystander, aged in his 20s, intervened after pretending to be her teacher, saying she was “very relieved” and “just burst out into tears because I realised what had gone on”.

She said she immediately left Hosier Lane before calling her mother who told her to contact her teachers who were about two blocks away.

“It was horrific to get that phone call … she was hysterical at that point,” her mother said.

“Luckily the guy stepped in, if not for him we don’t know what the outcome could’ve been to her or her friends that she was with,” the mother said, also requesting anonymity.

The girl said was now fearful of being in public places following the ordeal.

 

Hosier Lane is popular for its vibrant street art.

 

“I feel scared when I see people who could potentially come up to me and do those things, just strangers in the street.”

According to police, the offender was in the company of a woman (whom police hope to identify) with the pair leaving the area together on foot east on Flinders Lane and south on Russell St.

She is perceived to be Asian in appearance, with a solid build and long black hair, and was wearing a purple puffer jacket, beige/light pink t-shirt, blue jeans, white and fluoro orange shoes and a blue backpack.

Detective Senior Constable Joshua Guy of the Melbourne Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team described the incident as “predatory behaviour”, noting while it was an “isolated incident”, police had increased their presence in the area.

Anyone who witnessed the incident, or with any other information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000

 

Image: An image of a woman police believe may be able to assist them with their enquiries in relation to the incident.

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