'I couldn't breathe' - terror of girl (7) in daylight kidnap bid
A seven-year-old Dublin girl has been left traumatised and fearing for her life after a man threw a coat over her head and tried to grab her off the street on her way home from school, her mother has revealed.
Little Helena McQuillan is to receive counselling after the alleged attempted abduction on Tuesday at 3pm, just yards from her home.
Her mother Mary has decided to go public with their ordeal to raise awareness locally and encourage parents not to leave their young children out of sight.
Speaking to the Herald, Mary described the sequence of events that she said has destroyed her daughter's confidence and feelings of security and safety.
"I drop Helena to school at the Our Lady of Victories school every morning. We walk around together," she said.
"But because I have a special needs son who gets dropped home by minibus, I can't collect her and a friend of mine drops her to a gap near our house at Shangan Gardens and she comes down the avenue to come home the last few yards.
"On Tuesday, another friend of mine dropped her at the gap but I noticed Helena was late, so I rang my friend and asked about the delay.
"She said she had just dropped her off and she should be home any minute. But I still couldn't see her, so I went out to have a look. The next thing I saw her running down the lane and she was roaring crying and hysterical.
"I tried to calm her down. First I thought maybe somebody slapped her or something, but then she started crying about a man with a jacket.
"She said a man had come up behind her in the avenue. She cried 'mam, he threw a jacket over my head and face and I couldn't breathe'," Mary explained. "She managed to push the jacket off and run but the man chased her until he saw other people nearby and then he ran away."
Now Helena says she wants to stay home and doesn't want to go to school, her mother said.
"She says 'he'll get me here'," Mary said. "Special gardai that deal with children have interviewed Helena, and they brought her down to the avenue to see where it happened and did some role play with her to learn more, but she is very distressed," she added.
Helena said that the man was wearing an Adidas jumper and was around the same age as her dad, who is in his 30s.
"I just want to put this information out there," she said.
"I just feel powerless now that this man has put the fear of God into my daughter and me."
Gardai confirmed they have viewed CCTV and are investigating the case.