A man has been accused of attempting to kidnap a two-year-old boy from a play park in Doncaster, Sheffield Crown Court heard today.
When confronted by the child’s father, defendant Zain Shahid, 31, of Solihull, West Midlands, said: “I like children. I am taking him to a safe place”, the jury was told.
Giving evidence, the father said he was sat on a bench just outside the park when he saw the defendant approach his son and lift him down off some play equipment.
“At first I thought he was another father in that park helping my son down off the rocker. I gave him a wave,” said the child’s father, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
When the toddler wriggled away from the defendant and ran to another part of the park, Mr Shahid followed him and the boy’s father began to think that something was wrong.
“He did not seem to be a threat, but he was close enough to a child he did not know to give me concern,” he said.
When Mr Shahid took the toddler by the hand, his father grew alarmed and hopped over the fence back into the park.
He followed the pair across the park and confronted Shahid just outside the gate.
“I left him until he got to that gate so I knew his intentions were to take him out of the park,” he said.
The incident happened at 5.30pm in Sandall Park off Thorne Road on 19 May last year.
The child’s father said Mr Shahid was “blatant, but cheerful and bouncy” when he was confronted. The defendant said he was taking the child to a safe place.
“As if he had every right in the world to do so”, added the father.
Despite protests from other parents in the park, Mr Shahid returned and approached another child but was pushed away by a parent.
He eventually left the park and returned to his car a short distance away, where he was arrested on suspicion of child abduction.
Richard Barradell, defending, said Mr Shahid could have been intending to return the boy to his father and there was no way of knowing what he was thinking at that time. Mr Shahid was not in court.
Other witnesses described Mr Shahid’s behaviour as strange and unusual, with him jumping around and taking photographs of the area after he was confronted.
Gabriela Mariuta, who was at the park with her children at the time, said: “He was addressing the father of the child as if nothing had happened, as if he had nothing to do with what was going on.”
The trial continues.