Cornshell ‘abduction’ alarm was misunderstanding

An alleged double abduction attempt in Derry has turned out to be a “genuine misunderstanding”, police have admitted.

Parents were urged to be vigilant following reports that a man had spoken to two girls, aged 9 and 11, in Cornshell Fields on Saturday night.

It was reported that a man driving a dark coloured Ford Focus car stopped and spoke to the girls and asked for directions. Police said he then asked one of the girls if she would get in and show him the way. Police said that the girl refused and an adult called out to them before the man drove off.

The mother of the children said she was “really shocked” at the incident.

However, police yesterday confirmed that it was a case “genuine misunderstanding” after the family of an elderly man suspected of being the driver attended Strand Road police station.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, the 77 year-old’s daughter said her father was genuinely looking for directions and “stopped the first people he saw to ask”.

She added that the pensioner got easily confused since suffering a stroke several months ago.

“My father is having some work done at his home in Shantallow and was moved into Cornshell Fields in the meantime. He’s 77 years old and gets a bit confused so he stopped and asked for directions.”

“My brother took him directly to the police station when they contacted him. The police officer said it was a misunderstanding , that no charges were pending or anything else.”

The woman added: “I thought maybe it was a bit silly of him to stop and ask children but he just stopped and asked the first people he met. The whole thing has been blown out of proportion - there’s was no question of attempted abduction or anything else.”

The man’s daughter said she is currently trying to have him moved to another area as a result of the news coverage of the incident. She added: “All we want is to clarify this as he hasn’t left the house since.”