A man in Australia, who kidnapped a seven-year-old girl from a Kmart store and subjected her to indecent treatment has pleaded guilty.
Sterling Free, 26, abducted the girl from a Kmart at Westfield North Lakes in Brisbane in December 2018.
He took the girl to Pumicestone Passage, about 30 minutes’ drive from the shopping centre, before bringing her back to the store.
Free pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court on Wednesday to taking a child under 12 for immoral purposes, deprivation of liberty and indecent treatment.
The girl had been shopping with her mother when the father-of-two told her to ‘follow me’, the Courier Mail reported.
He took her to his car and drove her to Pumicestone Passage where she was assaulted.
The girl’s distraught mother had called on store staff to help find her.
After desperately searching for more than 30 minutes – by which time the girl would have been close to 30 kilometres away – Westfield security eventually phoned police.
In total, the young girl had been missing for more than an hour-and-a-half.
Free later dropped the girl at a car wash near the shopping centre.
The girl’s mother found a scratch on her back and a Facebook post was circulated in search of the kidnapper.
Free was arrested at his home two days later.
Prior to his arrest Free had worked at a local Fantastic Furniture store.
Free’s lawyer Shaune Irving, told the ABC outside of court his client was ‘somewhat relieved’ to have the end in sight.
His client had showed a level of remorse, he said.
However, Mr Irving would not go into details about the facts of the case.
‘He’s given us pretty detailed instructions that he wants to resolve the matter … and obviously have his punishment delivered and he wants to do that as quickly as possible.’
Free has been remanded in custody until sentencing in October.
Source: Daily Mail