Car thief Gurkan Yildrim spotted a Mercedes-Benz with the engine running outside a Melbourne school and saw an opportunity – but he didn’t notice the baby asleep in the back seat.
The child’s mother, who was chatting to parents at the pick-up area of a Coburg school, watched in horror as Yildrim sped off in the luxury 4WD, taking her six-month-old girl with him.
Fortunately, the baby was returned to her mother unharmed after the thief became aware of the child and abandoned his plan.
But the mum will never forget the terrifying ordeal, a Victorian County Court judge said as he jailed Yildrim, 25, for three years and five months in jail.
“This was absolute pandemonium,” Judge Michael Tinney said in his sentencing on Monday.
“At the scene was the distressed mother, walking along and wailing as the car left.
“It was the cargo that prompted her distress. Her baby was gone.”
In an attempt to stop the thief’s getaway, a friend of the woman hurled herself on to the bonnet of the car.
“So desperate was the situation in her eyes,” Judge Tinney said of the would-be hero. “What a horrific event for the mother and the woman on the bonnet.
“They had no idea what would become of the child.”
Yildrim soon crashed into another car, throwing the woman off the bonnet, before driving off.
Once he realised there was a baby in the back seat, he stopped the vehicle in a nearby lane.
He told a passer-by there was a child in the car and also called police from a phone booth, giving the location of the stolen vehicle.
“You weren’t setting out to take the child and once you realised you had, you sought to bring the matter to an end,” Judge Tinney said.
Yildrim, an electrician with a young daughter of his own, previously pleaded guilty to car theft, conduct endangering life and other charges.
He was ordered to serve at least two years in prison before being eligible for parole.