Parents in Feeny are on alert after a young boy was reportedly followed and approached by a stranger as he walked to a friend’s house.
The “worrying” incident happened on Wednesday afternoon, around 12.15, as the boy walked up Main Street towards a residential area.
The boy, a pupil at St. Canice’s Primary in the village, is understood to have passed a parked red car, with the driver inside. As the boy walked past, it is understood the driver followed the boy and approached him. It is understood the man asked the boy where he was going, before leaving.
The incident was reported immediately to police who are appealing for the driver of the car seen in Main Street to contact them, as well as anyone who saw the “suspicious vehicle” on Main Street between the hours of 11am and 2pm.
St. Canice’s principal, Anne Marie O’Hagan said her pupil was left shaken by the incident, which she alerted all parents to via the school’s text message system.
“You would be worried,” she told the ‘Journal’. “The boy is one of our older pupils, and several of our students walk, and especially in the good weather. You don’t want to scaremonger, but it is a concern. We teach all our children the ‘stranger danger’ message and we work with the PSNI who come into the school to make them aware of their safety.”
As news of the incident spread, Feeny Community Association made up and distributed more than 300 leaflets in the area. Stressing they did not want to cause alarm, the group said the boy was approached by a tall, bald male aged 40-50, driving a red car. They said the “circumstances surrounding this are cause for concern” and urged vigilance.
“This may have been innocent, but you can’t take the chance,” Ann Marie O’Brien of the Association told the ‘Journal’. “I understand the boy did not know the man, that he was a stranger; that he passed him in the car and the driver followed him before getting out and approaching him. This could have happened to any one of our children. You can’t be complacent, not even in a quiet country area like Feeny.”
One resident said: “This is scary stuff. Kids walk up to the gaelic club, just up the street, as well. Everyone needs to be vigilant.”
Sinn Fein councillor Tony McCaul said: “This is worrying, not something you expect in the middle of the day on Feeny Main Street. This may have been completely innocent, but it stresses again the need for vigilance.”
Both Colr. McCaul and Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey commended the school and the Community Association for such swift action.
Anyone with information about the incident should contact police in Limavady on 0845 600 8000 or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak anonymously on 0800 555 111.