Video: Family’s warning after man grabs boy, 9, in Gosport

  • Youngster was out playing with friends when a man approached him
  • Family afraid to let children out
  • Warning sent to other parents
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THE family of a nine-year-old boy who was almost abducted have spoken of their fear and sent a stark warning out to other parents.

Thomas Cotterill was outside in Exeter Court, Rowner, Gosport, at around 7.30pm on Tuesday, playing with a friend when a man sneaked up from behind him and grabbed him, ripping his shirt.

Joanna Johanesen, the aunt of nine-year-old Thomas Cotterill

Joanna Johanesen, the aunt of nine-year-old Thomas Cotterill

Thomas ran back to his grandmother’s house in Derby Court, and the man escaped and jumped over a fence.

Susan Cotterill, 60, Thomas’ grandmother, said: ‘When Thomas first came in he was acting very strangely. I noticed that his shirt was ripped.

‘He said “a man grabbed hold of my shirt”. I couldn’t believe it. I marched him back to where it happened so he could show me.’

Ms Cotterill called the police.

Mum Claire Cotterill, 36, from Elson Road, Gosport, said: ‘It’s scary. I’m just relieved that his T-shirt ripped and the man got away. I don’t know what the man’s intentions were.

‘I have tried asking Thomas about the incident but he doesn’t want to talk about what happened.

‘We are so worried.’

Now, Claire has warned other parents to be careful.

‘Look after our little creations,’ she said. ‘We put them on this world and we just need to look after them. We think they are safe with their friends but they aren’t. It’s an evil world we live in.’

Joanna Johanesen, 31, is his aunt. She said: ‘It’s rather alarming. They are only kids. They shouldn’t be under threat. This is a warning to parents to be extra vigilant. I know there are parents who let their kids out and don’t wonder where they are until it’s too late.

‘I don’t think Thomas will want to go out on his own any more.’

And it is believed it is not the first incident.

One anonymous resident from Howe Road, said: ‘Something similar happened to a girl further up Howe Road and I heard recently that a blue car was slowly driving alongside a young girl, it pulled over and he went to get out his car. She ran off before he could out. It is very strange.’

Hampshire police did not return calls from The News.