Newcastle Primark kidnap teenagers sentenced
Two girls who kidnapped a toddler from a Primark store have been detained for three years and three months.
The two-year-old was found an hour and 45 minutes later, after she was tracked via CCTV cameras to a park about three miles away from the Newcastle shop.
Sentencing the pair, aged 13 and 14, the judge at Newcastle Crown Court referred to internet searches on a tablet belonging to the younger girl.
These related to topics including children having sex, rape and slavery.
Mr Justice Globe said although the child came to "no actual harm", there had been intent, planning and enticement.
Just before the kidnap in April, the Tyneside teenagers had shoplifted dummies, baby milk and a bottle. They cannot be named because of their age.
The girls were initially charged with kidnap with the intention of committing a sexual offence but this was dropped after the prosecution accepted a plea to the alternative charge of kidnap.
The judge said the two girls put forward different accounts of the incident, but neither had explained to his satisfaction what actually happened.
He said their accounts "produce more questions than answers", and rejected the proposition they had taken the child "for no reason... with no specific intent".
"I bear in mind no physical harm was caused," he said.
"However, the extensive psychological harm to her mother was devastating. She won't let her daughter out of her sight and won't let her go to nursery."
He added it was clear some aspect of physical or sexual harm or exploitation would have been carried out if the toddler had not been rescued swiftly.
"It was the true reason as to why she was taken. Her [the mother's] fears are well founded," the judge said.
How events unfolded
16:30 - Child taken from Primark store in Northumberland Street
16:35 - Girls go to nearby Metro station and travel to Gosforth
16:55 - CCTV from store's exit identifies kidnappers, every police officer in Newcastle alerted
17:00 - Teenagers shoplift baby milk and bottle from Sainsbury's store in Gosforth
18:01 - The three are spotted at Gosforth Park, and the teenagers are arrested
Mr Justice Globe said the guidelines recommended a five-year sentence, but he deducted a third of this because the girls had pleaded guilty.
The initial sentences were three years and four months, but the judge later took off a month after hearing the teenagers had been subject to a curfew since their guilty plea in June.
He also refused to lift an anonymity order banning anyone from identifying them.
He said: "Anonymity is never an easy matter to resolve where there is an offence committed of public importance... Open justice is uppermost in my mind."
However, after taking the age of the two defendants into account, he decided the ban must remain in place.