A man who claims his daughter was nearly abducted while on holiday in Cyprus has said he feared she could end up vanishing like Madeleine McCann.
Daniel Mann says his daughter Lillie, two, was found in a woman’s arms after disappearing at the hotel – which this week was at the centre of claims that a gang had been trying to kidnap young children.
Holidaymakers at the Anastasia Beach Complex near Protaras, used by Thomas Cook, were moved to other accommodation after it was claimed that a gang – some dressed as waiters - were reportedly seen befriending children in the hotel pool, filming then and then trying to shepherd them into waiting cars.
Thomas Cook said 16 families had been moved to other hotels and two had been provided with flights home. The Foreign Office called the episode “concerning”.
But Cypriot police said that they arrested a 19-year-old Bulgarian man but could find no evidence of any wrongdoing after checking his mobile phone. They have said that the alleged abduction, which resulted in a group of up to 60 angry holidaymakers accosting alleged members of the gang, was the result of a misunderstanding.
And the hotel operator, Tsokkos, said claims of child abduction were "are completely unjustifiable and invalid".
Mr Mann, 28, a PE teacher from Horden, Co. Durham, told the Mirror how he had been at the hotel pool with Lillie and his partner Kay Baldasara last August when Lillie disappeared.
He said: “We were frantically searching for about 40 minutes. I could feel my stomach churning the longer it went on.
“There were people joining to help all the time. One or two mentioned Madeleine McCann, you can imagine how that made me feel.”
Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal in 2007, aged three.
“We found her in the arms of an Eastern European woman who was walking towards a car park", Mr Mann added.
"My partner saw her, she thought she was carrying a bag of potatoes, then she realised it was our child. She ran after her, screaming.”
But the woman said she had found Lillie wandering alone and was taking her back to the hotel. The matter was reported to British and Cypriot police but no arrests have been made.
Thomas Cook said: “We were concerned to hear about the incident reported by Mr Mann.
"Following conversations with him we contacted the hotel to ensure security at the property was increased.”
Hotel operator Tsokkos said in a statement: “According to the police investigation, the claims of child abduction are completely unjustifiable and invalid as nothing was found to suggest that the person involved intended to carry out such an act.
“The 19-year-old man involved is not an employee of the hotel and is not a known person to either the management or staff."Reuse content