A TERRIFIED tot escaped a vile abductor after she was snatched at a supermarket and dragged into a van.
Little Poppy-Leigh Gilmore, three, was out shopping with her mum Sarah-Jane, 26, and dad Jake Carson when she was grabbed by a hooded predator in broad daylight in Northern Ireland on Sunday.
Her terrified mum Sarah-Jane has opened up about the moment she vanished at the store in Crumlin, Co Antrim, and begged for witnesses to come forward.
She said: “In a split second Poppy-Leigh was gone, taken from us by a man who punched her in the back and dragged her off by the hand.
“She has told us she was taken by ‘the wrong man’ and we spoke to two people who noticed her being dragged off, but they assumed she was with her dad and was crying as she hadn’t got a toy she wanted.
“She hadn’t walked off, she’d been taken and she screamed and shouted at the man and struggled until she managed to get away from him and she hid in the car park.
“She told me he hurt her when she got out of the van so we know she’d been inside a van – that’s how close she was to being taken.”
In a split second Poppy-Leigh was gone, taken from us by a man who punched her in the back and dragged her off by the hand.
Poppy-Leigh was snatched in a instant from under her parents’ noses by the fiend – who waited until they were speaking to a shop assistant to make his kidnap bid.
The brave three-year-old was missing for around ten minutes before Sarah-Jane found her crying, petrified and hiding between to motors in the car park.
Witnesses say they saw the little girl being dragged away in tears by a man but thought it was her dad.
She was left with bruises on her arm from where the attacker gripped her.
Sarah-Jane told the Belfast Telegraph: “She was right beside us, holding her toy in one hand and holding on to her little brother’s pram with the other.
“We just turned to speak to the stall holder and turned back to her and she wasn’t there.
“When we looked up and down the line of stalls she was nowhere to be seen. It was very frightening. The row was empty and panic set in.
She told me he hurt her when she got out of the van so we know she’d been inside a van – that’s how close she was to being taken.
“I remember asking a man who was handing out Bible scriptures if he had seen her and he said he had. That gave me hope.
“Another woman told me she had passed her, but she was with her daddy.
“I told her that wasn’t her daddy, but I’m so thankful today to all of them for noticing and helping to find her before it was too late.
“I ran to her … and asked her what happened and she said ‘the wrong man grabbed me’.”
The distraught mum also revealed that he daughter was up all night “checking we were still there” and hid in the bathroom when the postman came the next morning.
She added: “We’ve been in shock ever since, just wondering ‘what if’ all the time.”
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The PSNI has launched a probe and appealed for witnesses to come forward.
A force spokesperson said: “At this stage it is believed a male led her away from the area.
“Thankfully the young girl was not harmed in any way, although she is extremely traumatised by her ordeal.”
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