THE mother of a two-year-old girl at the centre of child abduction claims today said: “I’m no liar.”
A massive police manhunt launched after reports Ellie Gibson had been snatched from the back garden of her Blackpool home was called off yesterday.
The area around Erdington Road was flooded with officers and two men arrested and quizzed over allegations they had grabbed the youngster. But police today confirmed an intensive inquiry had found no evidence of a crime being committed.
Det Chief Insp Andrea Barrow, who led the investigation, said: “I am appalled we have had parents in Blackpool concerned there is a man at large who tried to abduct a child when in fact this is simply not true.”
But mum Janine Gibson maintains she found a man holding her daughter in the alleyway behind their home after hearing the screams of playmate Jodie Ferguson – but the incident had been a “misunderstanding”.
She told The Gazette: “I just heard Jodie saying he had Ellie and I just panicked.
“I went out and this guy had Ellie. He didn’t look scared. I got Ellie back off him and he went.
“It’s been blown out of proportion.
“I’m not a liar, I don’t go out to seek attention – it was just a misunderstanding.”
Police launched a major investigation after Ms Gibson reported a man had tried to snatch her daughter from their home at around 6.40pm on June 30.
Detectives were told a man carrying a knife had jumped over a 6ft wall into a garden where the youngster was playing with seven-year-old Jodie and her four-year-old brother.
They were also informed the man had slashed at a trampoline before grabbing the girl.
But police today said they were satisfied no man had held Ellie at any point and the attempted abduction did not happen.
Ms Gibson added: “It’s been horrible so I’m glad they’ve resolved it and our minds are at rest now.
“Maybe one of the kids opened the gate and Ellie has gone out of the gate.
“They think the man was someone bringing Ellie back to us.
“But they are not looking for anyone now. They didn’t find any DNA anywhere.”
Officers spent hours carrying out door to door inquiries and trawling through CCTV as part of the probe.
Forensic teams were sent to the scene to gather evidence and police issued warnings to parents to be on their guard as a child snatcher was on the loose.
Det Chief Insp Barrow added: “A major incident room was opened and since the incident, I have had a team of highly skilled detectives and police staff working on this case.
“We will be discussing this matter with our colleagues at the Crown Prosecution Service to decide what further action will be taken.
“I hope the public can see that as a force we took the incident extremely seriously and when allegations of this severity are made, we will act.”