Magistrate closes court for alleged child kidnapping case described as ‘exceptional’
A court hearing the matter of an alleged kidnapping and indecent treatment of a 7-year-old girl north of Brisbane has remained closed today with the magistrate saying he supported the decision not to release information due to the case being “exceptional”.
It is alleged a 26-year-old man from Morayfield took the child from the Westfield North Lakes shopping centre on Saturday.
The ABC understands the girl was taken to Pumicestone Passage — about 30 minutes’ drive away.
The man has been charged with taking a child for immoral purposes, deprivation of liberty and indecent treatment of a child under 12.
In his decision to keep the court closed, Magistrate Trevor Morgan said it was in the interest of “public morality” and protecting the parties involved.
“Can I note that there has been comments by politicians criticising the behaviour of the police in not disclosing more information,” he said.
“I’m entirely well informed of the circumstances of the alleged offence and I entirely support the position of not disclosing more information than has been.
“In my view less information would have been more helpful than what has already been disclosed.
“There are cases which are exceptional, and this is one.
“I need to be sensitive to the victim’s interest, the victim’s interests in this case are very significant.
“It’s also important that I take into account the interests of the administration of justice in ensuring that the proceedings proceed according to the fundamental principle of fairness and the application of the rule of law and not by a public or social media lynching.
“I also take into account the interests of the accused, bearing in mind the presumption of innocence is not something we just say, we actually do.”
It is believed the man and the child were not known to each other.
It is alleged the child was taken from KMart at Westfield North Lakes shopping centre. (ABC News: Laura Gartry)
Australia Zoo has confirmed the accused man did work on the premises, but not directly for the zoo.
“We believe he may have been employed in the food and beverage department years ago, when this department was an externally leased business,” a spokeswomen said.
Daniel Morcombe Foundation CEO, Holly Brennan, said it was important to talk through safety tips with children especially during the busy Christmas season.
“We do need to remind ourselves that Australia is mostly a safe place, and it’s mostly okay and that you can go Christmas shopping and it will be alright for you and your children,” she said.
Ms Brennan said it is normal for small children to get lost occasionally but parents should give them safety tips.
“So the conversation is about ‘we’re going somewhere that’s going to be very busy and crowded, it’s really important that you keep sight of me and I will keep sight of you’.
“And then you do what we’ve all done and say ‘if we lose sight of each other this will be our meeting place’, and you practice that and talk through these issues.”
She also said parents should tell children to call for help if they feel unsafe.
“Tell them that if their body gives them clues that they are not safe then it’s okay for them to make a lot of noise, it’s okay for them to attract attention, it’s okay for them to call and ask for someone to help them.”