Man arrested after family car stolen with baby girl still inside

Nine-month-old was abandoned on pavement after vehicle taken from outside Cabra home

16/08/2012...STOCK...WEEKEND...ARCHIVE...
Garda confidential line advertised on squad car.
Photograph: Frank Miller  /	THE IRISH TIMES
16/08/2012...STOCK...WEEKEND...ARCHIVE...
Photograph: Frank Miller  /	THE IRISH TIMES

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Gardaí investigating the theft of a car with a baby girl inside arrested a man for questioning four days after the child was left abandoned face-down on the pavement beside a busy north Dublin road. A second child who was in the car, the girl’s brother (9), managed to scramble out of the vehicle before it was driven off and he quickly raised the alarm.

The suspect, who is in his 40s, was detained on Thursday and was being questioned at Mountjoy Garda station under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. The Garda investigation team also recovered the family’s Skoda car, stolen from outside their home in Cabra.

The incident began at about 7pm on Sunday on St Attracta Road when the car was left running outside the house with the children inside. It appears an opportunist criminal saw the keys in the car, as it was briefly unattended. The man jumped into the vehicle and, realising what was happening, the boy jumped out and ran into the house.

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His grandfather told The Irish Times he was “screaming in shock” and ran into the house, saying: “He took the car, he took the car.” When his parents, who are in their 20s, and his grandfather realised the car had been stolen with the girl still inside, they flagged down a passing car and went in pursuit of their own car.

The thief had driven at high speed down St Attracta Road before turning right on to nearby Fassaugh Road. He stopped in the stolen car about 1km from where he had taken it and left the girl on the pavement. She was found face down by three women who happened to be passing and saw the child being abandoned.

The child’s parents and grandfather were reunited with the young girl, who was unharmed, shortly after she had been taken. While the grandfather said the child seemed “oblivious” to the dramatic events she had been at the centre of, her brother was “much more shocked and upset”.

“We are just waiting to see now what the gardaí are doing,” he said, adding he had been informed about developments in the case, including the stolen car being recovered.

Gardaí also had reports of an attempted hijacking on Sunday evening in nearby Phibsborough a short time before the car was stolen with the baby inside in Cabra. Detectives believe the same person was involved in both incidents. In the first attempted hijacking in Phibsborough, a driver stopped in traffic managed to run from their car with her keys when a man got into the vehicle and attempted, unsuccessfully, to take it.

In a separate development related to the suspect, gardaí were called to a report of a home intrusion at a property in Ballymun, north Dublin, linked to the man. When gardaí arrived there were clear signs of a break-in and an investigation of the property uncovered cocaine valued at over €300,000. However, where the drugs had come from and how long they were there was under investigation as the drugs are not believed to be owned by the arrested man. Soon after calling to the address, gardaí arrested the suspect at another location.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times