Saturday, June 15, 2024

Melbourne mother recalls ‘begging’ armed abductor to leave her and daughter alone

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A mother says a man armed with a knife told her to “just stop crying” as he forced her to drive and buy laptops in Melbourne’s south-east while her six-month-old daughter sat in the back seat.

In a detailed statement to the media, the mother spoke of the “abhorrent” encounter, where her attacker promised her he would not take her child and apologised for ruining her night before letting her free.  

Police say the victim was getting out of her car at the Stud Park Shopping Centre last Friday night when she was confronted by a man who threatened her with a knife and forced her back into the driver’s seat of her Suzuki S Cross.

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“He just said, ‘get in your car and drive’,” the woman said on Friday while speaking to the media under the name Kieren.

“I just remember begging, ‘I’ve got a daughter, you can have my car, you can have my wallet, my phone, you can take everything, just leave me with my daughter’.

“He just kept demanding, ‘I don’t want your car, I don’t want your wallet, I don’t want your phone, just get in the car and drive’.”

Kieren said the man sat in the back seat of the car with her daughter and forced her to drive to several electrical stores nearby.

“He said ‘just stop crying and just breathe’, and I obviously couldn’t, so I wasn’t the best driver at that moment … my daughter just kept crying in the back seat,” she said.

Police say the man threatened the woman with a knife,  forcing her back into the car after she’d parked at Stud Park Shopping Centre.(Facebook: Stud Park Shopping Centre)

The man told her to drive to stores on the South Gippsland Highway in Cranbourne and Frankston-Dandenong Road in Dandenong, where he demanded she buy laptop computers.

He remained in the car with her child while she was forced to make the purchases.

Kieren said the man had promised her he would not harm the child or drive off with her.

“It was hard to believe him but I had to,” she said. 

Husband tried to confront man

Police said the man was seen on CCTV lingering around the car park for about an hour before he approached the woman.

They said the attacker would have known there was a baby in the car when he approached the vehicle. 

“All my questions were around why me, like if I had been five minutes later or earlier, if I had parked in a different spot,” Kieren said.

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She said her husband had detected something was wrong and was tracking her location through her mobile phone.

“I knew my husband was looking for me, he was constantly calling … I knew he would be contacting the police,” she said.

He was able to catch up with them at one of the stores and tried to confront the attacker.  

“I just remember yelling at my husband that he has a knife and I just didn’t want him to get hurt,” Kieren said.

“My husband tried to save my daughter but couldn’t because the door was locked and she was in a car seat.”

She said she had thought about how she would grab her daughter out of the car to escape but the car seat made that impossible. 

She said she was “thankful” her daughter was asleep for most of the ordeal. 

‘It’s turned my life upside down’, she says

Kieren said her phone was then thrown out of the car window.

“My poor husband got an incident on his phone saying my phone was in a crash so he thought the worst,” she said.

Eventually, Kieren said the man pulled over at Robert Booth Reserve, Dandenong, and told her “that’s it, you can take your daughter home”.

Kieren said it had been “really hard to feel safe” since the attack.

Friday was the first time she was able to leave the house but she said she struggled to go to the shopping centre.

“I told myself I could be a hermit for one or two weeks but obviously the world doesn’t stop,” she said.

“Bad things happen but it’s a rare case and I have to tell myself that it’s very unlikely to ever happen again to me.”

She raised concerns the man may have seen her licence and know her home address.

“He apologised for ruining my night but it’s definitely had longer lasting effects,” she said.

“I hope he feels bad because I don’t think he realised the impact it’s had on my life.

“It’s turned my life upside down.”

Police praise abducted woman for her courage 

Victoria Police praised Kieren for her “courageous” effort to keep her and her baby safe.

“It’s absolutely impressive to see how courageous she has been to keep a cool head under the circumstances, ultimately keeping herself and her baby safe,” Detective Senior Constable Jonathan Minehan said.

Kieren said she used previously learnt skills in de-escalating a situation.

“My first go-to was to be really really nice,” she said.

“I was really extremely nice, I think back, I must have sounded like a lunatic to him because I was helping him rob me.

“By the end I just wanted it to be over.”

She said the man told her he used to work as a nurse and had a niece around the same age as her daughter.

Police appeal to community for information

Detective Senior Constable Minehan described the incident as “abhorrent”.

To put a young family through a protracted and traumatic experience purely for financial gain, it baffles me that someone would behave in this manner,” he said.

“He was very direct and his manner was that he knew exactly what he wanted and he was very clear in conveying that to our victim.”

He said while Kieren and her daughter were not physically harmed, the attack had been “a significantly traumatising event”.

He described it as an isolated but “very alarming” incident.

“It is quite unusual to commit an offence of this severity purely for financial gain.”

Police have released dashcam footage of the man from the victim’s vehicle and detectives were examining what they described as a very large volume of CCTV footage from the shopping centre.

“We’re also appealing to anyone who may have driven cars and have dash cam footage of that area between about 5:20pm and about 6:30pm which may have captured this male in the lead up to the incident,” Senior Constable Minehan said.

The man has been described as being Asian in appearance and between 20 and 35 years old.

He was wearing a grey coloured hoodie with the hood over his head, a green fluorescent vest over the top of the hoodie and grey pants with black running shoes.

He was last seen carrying a shopping bag containing two Apple MacBook Pro computers in their boxes and another two boxed Apple MacBook computers under his left arm.

Police are urging anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.

Posted , updated 

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