A masked man took a child hostage at knife point this afternoon at Ballina Fair Shooping Centre. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs/ The Northern Star
A masked man took a child hostage at knife point this afternoon at Ballina Fair Shooping Centre. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs/ The Northern Star Patrick Gorbunovs

Police seeking witnesses to Ballina Fair drama

UPDATE 2pm: POLICE are appealing to witnesses of Friday's frightening knife attack on a 5-year-old girl at Ballina Fair to come forward.

Ballina detectives are investigating the incident which involved a 17-year-old boy grabbing the girl from her mother while armed with a kitchen knife.

The teenager, who is undergoing a mental health assessment at Richmond Clinic, was tackled by a 32-year-old man in a dramatic citizen's arrest and held by members of the public until police arrived.

Prior to the incident at Ballina Fair, police said the teenager was involved in a number of smashes while driving a green Hyundai Lantra sedan with red p-plates around the Ballina area.

Detectives are interested in speaking to anyone who saw the teenager at grab the girl at Ballina Fair, or any motorist who was involved in, or witnessed, one of the crashes.

Witnesses are asked to call Ballina police on 6681 8699 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

*****

5am: THE 17-year-old Ballina teen who allegedly attempted to abduct a five-year-old girl at knifepoint at Ballina Fair shopping centre on Friday afternoon has faced court and is now in Richmond Clinic.

The youth was arrested on Friday and taken to Ballina Police Station, where he was charged with: take or detain child with intent to remove from parental control; reckless wounding; armed with intent to commit indictable offence; face blackened or disguised with intent to commit indictable offence; shoplifting; assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He was refused bail and appeared before Lismore Children's Court on Saturday where an order for a mental health assessment was made by the magistrate under section 33 of the Mental Health Act.

Police said the teen is now under the care of Richmond Clinic and at this stage they have not set any future court appearances for the youth.

In a statement released to the media, police said they have been told the teen walked into a supermarket on Friday and allegedly stole a knife, before leaving the store and walking to a children's ride where a five-year-old girl was playing.

It is alleged the youth took hold of the girl's arm and dragged her away from her mother and siblings, while holding the knife out in front of him.

Police have told The Northern Star they believe the child was chosen at random, and the girl is unrelated to the youth.

A number of people intervened, asking for him to let the girl go and at this stage she managed to break free, and a 32-year-old man attempted to apprehend the teen.

A brief struggle allegedly ensued, in which the 32-year-old suffered a small stab wound to his hand, and hit his head on a shop counter, causing a large head wound.

The man was assisted by a number of other shoppers who disarmed the youth and held him until police arrived.


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