Madeleine McCann paedophile mania grips Cyrpus
Another summer brings with it another Madeleine McCann front-page news story. The innocent child who became the media’s benchmark for all missing children is evoked on the Daily Star and Daily Mirror’s front pages. There is talk of child kidnappers in Protaras, Cyprus.
The Star announces:
NEW MADDIE SNATCH HORROR AT BRIT HOLS RESORT
The Mirror goes with:
MY GIRL WAS SNATCHED ON HOLS LIKE MADDIE
Only, she wasn’t snatched. No, not Madeleine. This other child. In fact, no other child has been kidnapped.
The Star’s Jerry Lawton says “hero dad” James Down performed a “citizen’s arrest” on “one of the suspects who had been videoing children on his mobile phone”. Holidaymakers say are “up to 10 child traffickers posing as hotel waiters”.
The Leicester Mercury sees an exodus:
A British father on holiday in Cyprus has spoken about fearing a Madeleine McCann style snatch after his two-year-old daughter was taken by a gang of would-be kidnappers. The incident happened at the Anastasia Beach Complex in Protaras on Tuesday, resulting in tour operator Thomas Cook moving more than one hundred holidaymakers.
The Times has more from the aforesaid heroic Mr Down:
James Down, 30, said that he apprehended the man and claimed that he had found footage of children on his phone. “He’d been on the beach talking to some children and then he was by the pool. I then saw him kneeling behind a wall talking to some little kids,” Mr Down, a wind turbine engineer, said. “I got him by the scruff of the neck and took him to the hotel reception.”
Mr Down, a former soldier from Newcastle, said he took the man’s phone and found images and videos of children taken in the area. He said that he and his friends had later seen a woman who they thought was linked to the man, chased her and grabbed her. “I saw a pick-up truck which had its engine running and a saloon car. Some of our group tried to run after the vehicles, but they drove off. I think they were traffickers,” he said.
Think they were traffickers? Can anyone ask the man Mr Down’s arrested and frog-marched into the hotel if he is interested in selling children?
The Daily Record’s James Moncur writes:
THREE youngsters were being lured into cars at the Anastasia Beach Complex, near Protaras, when the child-snatcher were caught [sic].
Got him! Brilliant. No make him talk.
A holidaymaker at the Cyprus resort with a wedding party from Dundee said: “We had seen these people around the hotel all week. They’d been in the pool and interacting with some of the children. Some of them were wearing staff outfits so they could blend in more easily. It was really scary.”
Scots dad Greg Letford, 28, told how the gang – who staff claimed were Romanians – targeted kids on Tuesday night.
He said: “This Romanian couple were leading the two young children towards a waiting car, another person had a third child up against a wall ready to go, too. Someone spotted what they were up to and stopped them. If he hadn’t been there those kids would have gone. One of the men got away and we heard the getaway car crashed a short distance away too. When the police turned up, they took the man and woman into an office in the hotel and a crowd built up in the foyer – there must have been about 60 or 70 really angry people. It was chaos. The police got them into a van through a window for their protection. One of the hotel staff later told us they were Romanian and that one of them used to work at the hotel.”
And the arrested man and the Romanian “holiday hell gang”? Well, the ‘arrested’ man is from Bulgaria. As the Times notes:
Police said they had arrested the Bulgarian man, 19, accused of filming children, but there had been no reports of an abduction and searches of his mobile phone, home and person led nowhere. Other reports suggested the man had been assaulted by a group at the hotel. Nikoletta Tyrimou, a police spokeswoman, said that police made one, not two, arrests and that there was no get-away car or people in disguise stalking children. She said: “Upon arriving at the scene, police officers arrested a 19-year-old man from Bulgaria whom holidaymakers said had been filming their children and was trying to abduct them.
“We questioned the suspect, went through his phone and also searched his home. Nothing we found suggests that he is part of a child-abducting gang or that he was stalking children. The man has since been released.”
It did? They did? Mr Daniel Mann tells the Mirror that kidnappers tried to steal his daughter Lillie last year.
It also emerged that a two-year-old girl from Durham had disappeared for 40 minutes at the same resort last year. She was finally spotted being carried away from the hotel by a woman who claimed to have found the toddler wandering alone.
Says Mr Mann:
“It was awful. My daughter was about 10 yards from me at the pool and in the time it took me to turn around and say, ‘It is time to go I will go and get the bairn,’ she had gone.We were frantically searching for about 40 minutes. I could feel my stomach churning the longer it went on. There were people joining to help all the time. One or two mentioned Madeleine McCann, you can imagine how that made me feel. We found her in the arms of an Eastern European woman who was walking towards a car park. My partner saw her, she thought she was carrying a bag of potatoes, then she realised it was our child. She ran after her, screaming.”
Thomas Cook have made this statement:
The safety and welfare of our customers is always our first priority and upon hearing about the alleged incident, we immediately deployed our experienced resort team to the property to provide those customers in residence with individual support. On request, we assisted 16 customer bookings who wished to move to an alternative hotel and two families who travelled back to the UK early. Although there are conflicting reports as to what exactly occurred at the property, we would like to reassure all customers that we take all allegations incredibly seriously and we are continuing to work closely with our customers in resort and the local authorities.
So. Not 100 holidaymakers, then. And Mr Mann’s partner, Lillie’s mother Kay Baldasara, adds that the woman ‘abducting’ her daughter is on the loose:
“By the time I checked over Lillie, she had gone.”
The pair reported the kidnap attempt to Durham Police when they returned home after the holiday last August. The case was referred to Operation Grange, the unit leading the search for Madeleine. It was also shared with detectives in Cyprus. There have been no arrests.
Daniel told how the latest kidnap bids at the hotel brought their own horror flooding back.
We’ll end this round-up with the Cyprus Mail’s take on events. Constantinos Psillides writes:
The British media reporting on the alleged attempted kidnapping of three youngsters at a Protaras hotel, “has been completely blown out of proportion and it’s all wrong,” an eyewitness has said.
The tourist, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the Cyprus Mail that while he wasn’t part of the wedding party that was taking place at the Anastasia hotel at the time, he witnessed what happened firsthand.
“At some point we heard a large commotion and screams. Somebody attacked a young man yelling “paedophile, paedophile” and then suddenly a group of around 50 people were chasing him.
The 19-year-old Bulgarian was attacked?
We joined them and chased two people to the front desk, a man and a woman.
Police came and took the young man in custody – a 19-year-old Bulgarian — but let the woman go because it turned out that she had nothing to do with the incident and that she just happened to be there. That’s what really happened, nothing more,” said the holidaymaker, adding that he was appalled after reading news reports on the story.
“They said that child snatchers were posing as hotel staff. That’s completely ridiculous, I have no idea where they got that from,” the holidaymaker said.
“I also noticed that some have been connecting this incident to the Madeleine case. That is both wrong and disrespectful,” stressed the holidaymaker, referring to the famous case of then three-year old Madeleine McCann who disappeared from her room while holidaying with her family in a holiday resort in Portugal in 2007.
Meanwhile, a source close to the investigation told the Cyprus Mail that the parents of the 19-year old Bulgarian that was arrested are employed by the company that owns Anastasia Beach hotel, Tsokkos Hotels.
He was with his mum and dad. Their son has been abused?
The 19-year old apparently spent a lot of time in the hotel, frequenting the pool area. The source said that on the 19-year-old’s phone, police found four pictures, none of which depicted children.
“They were pictures of a hotel show. We went through the suspect’s phone, we searched his house thoroughly and found absolutely nothing to suggest that he was a paedophile, a kidnapper or that he was part of a gang.”
But he might have been, right?