A mum-of-two relived the horrifying moment a man snatched her son from their front garden and casually walked away with him at the High Court this week.
The 24-year-old, who cannot be named to protect her children’s identities – told the court in Livingston she had only left the three-year-old and his brother (5) for a matter of moments before the drama in Bonnybridge on April 25 last year.
The jury heard on Monday how the mum saw a “stocky” stranger with a “circular face” lean over the wooden fence and lift her son up by the armpits. She said she saw the younger boy in the stranger’s arms as the man walked away at a “normal” pace carrying the boy with his right arm wrapped around the youngster’s waist.
“I froze for a minute then I ran out the back door,” said the mum. “I threw myself over the fence. It was pretty fast.”
She said she shouted out her son’s name twice and the man dropped the youngster. “My heart nearly stopped,” she said.
The mother, who has since moved to Grangemouth, first identified a suspect from a book of police photographs, then picked out the same man at an identity parade at Falkirk Police Station.
Asked if she recognised the man in court she pointed out the accused Derek Hornall (40), a prisoner at Barlinnie in Glasgow.
Mr Hornall denies reaching over the garden fence, seizing the child under the arms, lifting him over the fence and carrying him away and detaining him against his will.
He also denies behaving in a threatening and abusive manner at another address in Bonnybridge on October 5, 2015 by chasing and threatening to kidnap a nine-year-old girl and two boys aged seven and 11, as well as possessing cannabis at Falkirk Police office the same day.
On Tuesday, the mum’s friend told the court she got to the garden in time to see her coming back towards the house with the two children.
She said: “She was just in floods of tears. She said that a man had taken (her son) out of the garden.
“I ran down that back path between the two houses, but I saw no-one.”
The two friends and their boyfriends had spent the day together and on their way home from the supermarket they encountered a man standing in the middle of the road forcing them to “slam on the brakes”.
The friend later identified the man as Mr Hornall and admitted that her partner had been arrested that night for assaulting the accused.
Defence counsel Krista Johnston also asked the mum if she’d picked out the accused because he was “Alky Des, hanging about drinking in the street” and the man her friend had nearly run over.
She replied: “No. I picked him out because he was the man who lifted my son.”
Yesterday (Wednesday), Detective Constable Lynn McPhail (45) said she took a photo book containing 12 images to the woman just over two hours after the alleged crime was reported.
She said: “She was very clear when she pointed to number nine. She was animated and agitated.
“She was kind of upset and became quite tearful. I think she said something like, ‘That’s the one that took my baby!’.”
Detective Constable Denise McIntyre (45) said Hornall had been given access to a solicitor after he was detained and gave a “no comment” interview with an “appropriate adult” present.
He made no reply to caution and charge when he was formally accused of child abduction. The trial, before Lord Woolman, continues.