Man in clown mask photographs children in Waterside play park

Joanne and Gary Murray at the play park in Tullyally.
Joanne and Gary Murray at the play park in Tullyally.

A Tullyally mother has spoken of how her eight-year-old daughter may chillingly have been photographed by a knife-wielding man in a clown mask in a local play park.

Joanne Murray has told how her daughter Elle had opened up about a strange man in the area last Thursday.

She said her daughter told her the latest incident occurred in broad daylight between 5pm and 6pm.

“Elle had on her school uniform and he saw the Ebrington [primary school] crest, to which he came over and says to her: ‘My wee boy’s in your school’ and gave a random name. So to me, he’s gained her confidence in doing this and she says she’s seen this knife in his hand, asked what it was and he says: ‘It’s a knife but it’s not real, it’s for my wee boy’.”

Mrs Murray, who lives in Stevenson Park, said the incident was promptly reported to the PSNI.

“Now the description she gave to the policeman when questioned was that it was pointed, with a big line down the middle. To me, that’s not your average kitchen knife. So, it freaked me out, because I thought, ‘hunting knife, fishing knife,’ whatever the case may be, for a child to describe that kind of knife in such detail.

“She told him [the policeman] that he had wires coming out of his coat. He had on a black jacket and a black pair of trousers and he had all these wee wires coming out.

“But she said that he had taken photographs of her and [another child]. That freaked me out even more to know that somebody has taken a photograph of my daughter, knows what school they’re at. That really, I have to say, freaked me out.”

Mrs Murray is urging people in the area to be vigilant.

“You know, apparently this man has been in the park before, they’ve seen the knife but he was wearing a mask, like a clown mask, as they’ve described it, and he had jumped out of the bushes in the park and grabbed this other wee boy.”

Mrs Murray said the play park in Tullyally is not secure, is adjacent to a main road, and is sunk in a hollow out of view of most of Stevenson Park.

“Why is there a park down in the main road anyway? There shouldn’t be umpteen entrances to that park, there should be one. There’s no security.”

The PSNI confirmed that they received a report of that a man had spoken to two girls at a play area at Stevenson Park.

Sergeant Robin Young, of the Waterside Urban NPT, said: “On interviewing people in the area, officers were told that the man appeared to have a toy knife with him.

“However, there have been no suggestions to date that he said or did anything untoward.“We would though, appeal for anyone who can help establish all the circumstances to get in touch with the Waterside Urban Neighbourhood Policing Team on the non-emergency number 101.”