News State Queensland Girl, 7, allegedly abducted from shopping centre and sexually assaulted

Girl, 7, allegedly abducted from shopping centre and sexually assaulted

westfield north lakes
The man allegedly kidnapped the girl from Westfield North Lakes, north of Brisbane. Photo: Facebook/ Westfield North Lakes
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A man has been charged over the alleged kidnapping and sexual assault of a seven-year-old girl, who was allegedly taken from a shopping centre north of Brisbane on Saturday.

A 26-year-old Morayfield man has been charged with taking a child for immoral purposes, deprivation of liberty and indecent treatment of a child under 12.

A police spokesman said the man allegedly spoke to the young girl and they left the store together.

It is believed police used CCTV to identify the man.

He appeared in the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

The Pine Rivers Court was closed while the matter was briefly mentioned on Tuesday morning before being adjourned to be heard again on Wednesday.

A Facebook post circulated widely over the past few days gave a second-hand account of the incident, claiming that a child was taken from Kmart at North Lakes, while her mother was shopping.

The post claimed that the child was returned about an hour and a half later.

kmart north lakes
It is believed police used CCTV to identify the man. Photo: ABC

But when contacted by the ABC on Monday, staff at Queensland Police Media said they weren’t aware of the incident.

In a statement released on Tuesday, police said an investigation centre was set up to find the man, which included detectives from the Child Protection Investigation Unit and the Child Abuse and Sexual Crime Group.

Detective Superintendent Tony Fleming thanked officers for their work.

“My thanks also extend to Westfield North Lakes staff for their co-operation and support to police in this investigation,” he said.

“Crimes in circumstances such as this are not common, but it is a timely reminder that a very small number of people could take advantage of an opportunity to harm a child.”

Jana Hesketh was at the centre with her family on Saturday and said the store was extremely busy.

“While we were in Kmart, announcements were made for someone to go to either customer service or the checkout repeatedly, I’d say every five minutes or so,” Ms Hesketh said.

She said the announcements became increasingly tense and urgent.

A Kmart spokesman said the store is aware of the incident and is assisting police with the investigation.