Father mistaken for a paedophile after booking a hotel room with his 14-year-old daughter

‘One minute I was brushing my teeth, the next I was being told I was a paedophile,’ says Karl Pollard

Sunday 18 February 2018 18:37 GMT
Stephanie and her dad were visiting Mr Pollard’s mother who has lung cancer
Stephanie and her dad were visiting Mr Pollard’s mother who has lung cancer (SWNS)

Hotel staff suspected a father of being a paedophile after he booked a room with his teenage daughter.

Karl Pollard, from South Wales, bought a stay in a double room in a Travelodge in Macclesfield, Cheshire, after being told it was the only one available.

The 46-year-old said he was taking his daughter Stephanie, 14, to visit his mother, who was suffering from lung cancer. But staff at the hotel were suspicious.

“When we arrived the receptionist gave me a weird look but I thought nothing of it,” he said.

“We went up to the room to get unpacked and ready to see my mum. It was only a 20-minute walk away, which is why I chose the hotel.

“About 10 minutes later there was a knock at the door. A policewoman was standing there. I thought something had happened to my mum or my wife.

“But she said, ‘We’ve had a call from Travelodge, they believe you are a paedophile grooming underage girls’.”

Karl said: “I couldn’t believe it. It was an emotional trip already – but it was made so much worse.

“One minute I was brushing my teeth, the next I was being told I was a paedophile.”

Mr Pollard and his daughter were interviewed separately by the officer.

He said: “I explained to her that I was Stephanie’s dad. The officer had to ask her loads of questions to prove it.”

“My mum has just been diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer. We’re not sure how long she has left.

“I wanted to take Stephanie down to visit her before she started treatment.”

Mr Pollard, a carer for his wife Kim, 45, who has multiple sclerosis, said police dropped the matter quickly, but the episode upset his daughter.

He said: “My daughter was in tears. She was so scared – and thought I was going to get taken away.”

Travelodge said it takes its responsibilities towards protecting children and vulnerable young people extremely seriously.

A spokesman has apologised and said Mr Pollard has been given a full refund.

They added: “All our hotel teams are trained according to national guidelines supported by the NSPCC. In the past proactive action by our hotel teams has helped to safeguard young people at risk. In this instance we got it wrong.”

Cheshire Police said: “Police were called at 3pm on Thursday 8 February to reports of suspicious activity at a hotel on Waters Green in Macclesfield.

“Staff at the Travelodge did the right thing by reporting what they believed to be suspicious activity to officers, although thankfully there was nothing untoward and it turned out to be a misunderstanding.”

Last year Travelodge demanded father and widower Craig Darwell prove he was the father of his 13-year-old daughter after staff accused him of being a paedophile.

Mr Darwell had checked into the hotel in Surrey after taking his daughter to Thorpe Park.

SWNS contributed to this report

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