Every parent worries about the safety of their child.
One father's worst nightmare recently came true when he heard his 11-year-old daughter being kidnapped in a scary phone call.
The dad answered his phone on October 12, and listened in horror as his little girl was beaten and abducted by a drunk man, Mawande Sicwebu.
Sicwebu, a 27-year-old mental health carer, attacked the girl as she was walking home from school in Colchester, Essex.
According to court records, Sicwebu repeatedly punched the 11-year-old as he dragged her toward a nearby house.
The child's father received the harrowing phone call 40 minutes after she was grabbed by her attacker and heard his "hysterical" daughter screaming, "A man is trying to kidnap me" into the phone.
The father says he could also hear a man's voice telling his daughter to put down the cell phone.
During a hearing at Ipswich Crown Court, the jury heard the father, who works as a security guard, screamed, "just run for your life!" into the phone before being disconnected from his daughter.
The father immediately called her back, and heard his gasping daughter say, "I can't run any more, my tummy is hurting," as she tried to catch her breath.
Prosecutor Cathy McCulloch said the distressed girl was later found by a family friend who brought her to her mother's house.
People in the area who saw some of the attack were so concerned they brought the incident to the attention of police by flagging down a passing police car.
Police reports allege Sicwebu approached the girl around 4:30 pm on October 12, 2016, and threatened the 11-year-old, saying, "Come with me or I'll kill you."
Sicwebu instructed a boy who was walking home from school with the girl to walk to a nearby park.
During the next terrifying 40 minutes, the girl says Sicwebu grabbed her by the wrist and started beating her.
The abducted girl told detectives Sicwebu slapped her and delivered punches to her chest and stomach, leaving her out of breath.
The prosecutor told the jury the phone call to the 11-year-old's father had saved her life, stating, "but for the telephone call from her father we don't know what would have happened to her."
Sicwebu was taken into custody the next day and admitted to kidnapping and assaulting the girl.
According to court records, the kidnapping was a random act that had not been pre-meditated.
During the hearing, Judge Martyn Levett told Sicwebu,
I hope these remarks send a message to you, and others who consider committing similar crimes. No adult person can place themselves in the position of an 11-year-old child who has been taken, or even understand the shock of a stranger taking them to an unknown place. You had been drinking for a considerable period on the day in question and have admitted you are ashamed of your actions. You have a child of your own and should be ashamed. What is unforgivable is you hit her while sending her friend away. All she did was leave school and try to return home.
Catherine Bradshaw defended Sicwebu, telling the jury he had already spent four months in custody and had three young children at home.
Bradshaw told the court that Sicwebu had been drinking on the day of the incident, and he was shocked by his actions.
After his arrest, Sicwebu told police he had started to feel ill as a result of drinking on the day of the incident and was simply seeking assistance.
The defense blamed his awful behavior on drinking combined with high stress levels from work.
Bradshaw told the jury,
He is distressed about the crime he has committed and the effect it has had on the victim. His two main regrets are for the victim, and the additional stress he has put on his young family.
As a result of the incident, Sicwebu was ordered to spend two years and eight months in jail.