Fears grow for abducted girl, 5

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Crime Correspondent

Hopes of finding alive a five-year-old girl who was taken from her bed in the early hours of Sunday were fading last night.

Rosemary McCann was probably abducted while her mother visited neighbours in Oldham, Greater Manchester, police believe. Detective Superintendent Ron Gaffey, who is leading the hunt for the girl, said yesterday that the situation was very serious. "She is only five years old and if she is on her own somewhere the chances are getting slimmer by the minute. Time is important in this case. I am extremely concerned and that concern is increasing by the hour."

Andrew Pountley, 31, a disc jockey, of Kew Road, Oldham, was remanded in custody yesterday when he appeared before magistrates accused of abducting Rosemary. Mr Pountley, a friend of Rosemary's mother, will reappear in court tomorrow. He made no application for bail and is expected to be questioned again about the girl's whereabouts while in custody.

Meanwhile mountain rescue teams, police divers and British transport police helped search houses, woodlands, railway tracks, and open water close to Rosemary's home.

Mr Gaffey said possible sightings, including some from other parts of the country, were being followed up. Shortly after her disappearance a motorist told police he had given a man and a girl answering Rosemary's description a lift to a housing estate in Oldham.

Police have still not ruled out the possibility that Rosemary could be held or locked up somewhere in the area.

"She could be imprisoned somewhere on her own," Mr Gaffey told a news conference. "She could be dead, but we hope that is not the case and we still hope to find her safe and well."