Pensioner tells man talking to girl to ‘clear off’

INFORMATION Police want information about the man
INFORMATION Police want information about the man
Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton and District Commander Superintendent Maggie Blyth. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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AN ELDERLY lady has told of the moment she chased a man away from a schoolgirl.

Gloria Whitcombe, from Farlington, stepped in when the man approached a Year 7 student from Miltoncross school last Monday.

As previously reported in The News, a man was seen outside the school, off Milton Road, Fratton, talking to students and offering to buy them lunch or take them home.

The incident was immediately reported to police and the school sent home a letter warning parents.

But Mrs Whitcombe, who told the man to ‘clear off,’ said the whole experience was very frightening.

‘I was sat at the bus stop outside Kingston Prison when a man sat down next to a little girl who was waiting for her bus,’ said the 74-year-old.

‘He put his hand around the top of her arm but I wasn’t really paying much attention.

‘I had other things on my mind and just assumed, from the way he was talking to her, that they knew each other. I thought he was her teacher.

‘But after a couple of minutes, I looked across and the look the girl gave me was of utmost fear.

‘Straight away, I knew something wasn’t right. She looked so scared.’

The man spoke to Mrs Whitcombe and asked if she was the girl’s mum.

‘She didn’t answer him but overheard him ask the girl if she wanted to go home with him.

‘As soon as I heard that, I stood up and told him to clear off. I said that no, she didn’t want to go home with him,’ she added.

‘As I said this, he continued to hold her arm but my husband leaned forward and he let go and went away.

‘I saw him walk up the road to two other men. They spoke for a while and then he left.

‘The young girl was so traumatised and she said to me “don’t leave me”.’

Mrs Whitcombe stayed with the girl until her bus came and told her not to get off.

She said: ‘I assured her that I would speak to the driver and make sure she got away from the area and safely home.

‘The whole thing was so frightening and I could have put myself in danger by getting involved.

‘But you just don’t think about those sort of things. You just act.’

Hampshire Constabulary were unable to confirm where they were with the investigation.