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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Sweeney victim mother speaks out
Craig Sweeney
Paedophile Craig Sweeney can seek parole after five years

The mother of a toddler who was abducted and sexually abused by a convicted paedophile has called for an immediate change in the law.

Craig Sweeney, 24, who took the three-year-old from her home in Cardiff was last week sentenced to life but can seek parole after five years.

The girl's mother has called for tougher sentencing adding the attack did "terrible damage" to her daughter.

She said: "He should have had life and life should mean life."

The mother of the victim, who cannot be named, said Sweeney's sentence, passed at Cardiff Crown Court, was a "pathetic insult" to her child.

It was too horrendous of an attack for her to ever forget that face
Mother of three-year-old victim

Speaking to the BBC on Monday, she described how she felt "appalled" on hearing the judge's decision.

She said: "What the hell have you just said? How can you hand down that sentence? There's a picture of my baby next to you and you're handing out sentences like you're handing out them to petty car thieves."

Chris Woolley, the chief crown prosecutor for south Wales had previously said Judge John Griffith Williams QC had been acting in accordance with guidelines in sentencing Sweeney at Cardiff Crown Court.

In her radio interview, the child's mother went to to say of Sweeney: "And I know children have had terrible crimes committed on them, but what he did to my daughter is beyond belief. It's just horrendous.

"I just hope and pray, that something's done before it happens to another child, because I lost my baby, but hopefully I'll get her back." In her opinion, anyone who assaulted a child should get a minimum of 15 years.

"Never mind first offence, second offence, big deal, you do not lay a finger on a child," she added.

"Any animal who touches a baby, or a child, or even anybody, 15 years minimum.

"He should have had life, and life should mean life, no parole after 10 years, 15, or 20. In there for the rest of his life because he took my daughter's life away.

'Unduly lenient'

Sweeney - who was known to the family - snatched the child from her house in Rumney, Cardiff, on the evening of 2 January while her mother made a telephone call.

He drove her to his Newport flat, where he was living after being released early from a three-year sentence for indecently assaulting a girl aged six.

Rumney area of Cardiff
Sweeney snatched the child from the Rumney area of Cardiff

The girl was found by police hours later in Wiltshire, after a high-speed car chase which began when police spotted Sweeney driving without lights on.

Sweeney's sentencing sparked widespread debate on the sentencing of paedophiles.

Home Secretary John Reid said it was "unduly lenient" and junior constitutional affairs minister Vera Baird said the sentence was too short.

The victim's mother agreed there should be a law in the UK similar to Megan's Law in America, which allows parents access to information on paedophiles living in their local area.

She said following Sweeney's attack on her daughter, she has been left with "a different child" and her daughter had become "unpredictable".

"I can never say the baby will wake up and be happy, because it's very rare to see a smile on the baby's face," she said.

"He took away her innocence and left terrible damage to her.

"At the time of the attack, her life must have flashed a million times before her. I look at her everyday thinking 'oh my God, what's going through that baby's head?'"

She said the attack was something that the family would always have to live with.

"I know there's going to be a day I'm going to have to sit my baby down and explain to her that a terrible thing has happened to her," she added.

"It's never going to end."

Baird apology for judge comments
19 Jun 06 |  UK Politics
Reid warned against Megan's Law
19 Jun 06 |  UK Politics
Minister examines 'Megan's Law'
18 Jun 06 |  UK Politics

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