A distraught mother is living in fear as the woman who abducted her young daughter has been freed – and is back on the same estate.
Jennifer May-Cunningham, 33, offered the five-year-old girl a cup of tea before leading her away from a playground and locking her in her flat.
A neighbour witnessed the abduction and alerted the terrified girl’s mum, Naomi Haynes, 24, who rushed to rescue her daughter.
Alongside the girl’s father, Daniel Beal, 28, a production operative, terrified mum, Naomi gained access to May-Cunningham’s flat to rescue Evie, five, before the police arrived and made an arrest.
After a trial, Jennifer Ashley May-Cunningham, 33, was found guilty of detaining a child and keeping them from a person having lawful control at Isle of Wight Magistrates Court, on 21st April 2020.
Despite this, Cunningham has been allowed to live back on the same estate, in Chale Green, Isle of Wight, leaving little Evie ‘petrified’ and ‘hysterical’.
Evie and little brother, Jensen, three, have been sent to live with their grandmother in London – in the midst of the current pandemic.
Naomi, a stay-at-home-mum, said: ”My daughter is fully traumatised.
”When she heard that Jennifer was back on the estate where we live she fell to the floor, retching.
”It’s heartbreaking for me as her mum to see her so scared.
”I’m livid with the local housing authority, they won’t accept responsibility and house her elsewhere.
”The whole neighbourhood is traumatised too, people are scared to let their kids play out on sunny days.
”I’ve even had to put my girl in therapy, it’s a disgrace.”
On 1st March, single Naomi, was doing chores in her flat while ex-partner, Daniel, took their two kids to the local park.
Evie was with a pal on her way back from another friend’s house – just yards from home – when Cunningham, a neighbour well known for her ‘difficult’ behaviour, approached her and invited the five-year-old for a cup of tea.
May-Cunningham led the girl home-all caught on CCTV- and then locked both herself and the child in her own home.
Luckily a neighbour had spotted the abduction and immediately alerted parents Daniel and Naomi.
”My neighbour called me, at first I couldn’t take in what she was saying,” she said.
”It’s a very close neighbourhood, where the kids have always been safe to walk between each other’s houses, but not anymore.
”As soon as we realised Evie had been taken we just ran out my front door and down to where Jennifer’s flat is.
”I was screaming and crying, it was horrible.
“All the worst things were running through my head. I worried I’d never see my little girl again.
”Jennifer has quite a reputation around here, she’s always in trouble with the police.
”She’s banned from most shops, buses, taxis etc.
”People are scared of her but I never thought she’d go this far.
”I was making myself hysterical imagining what she might be doing to my poor little girl.
”Eventually we managed to bash the door open just as the police arrived.
”I grabbed Evie and tried to comfort her, but I’ve never seen her so upset. She was scared out of her mind.
”As the police were trying to arrest Jennifer she really lashed out and was spitting at them all.
”In the end they had to carry her out of there she was fighting so hard.”
May-Cunningham was released on bail pending a trial, but was recalled to custody on 12th March after breaching the conditions of her bail.
On March 13th she was remanded in custody for one month before a hearing during which she pleaded not guilty.
Just over a month later, on 21st April, Isle of Wight Magistrates found her guilty of detaining a child and keeping them from a person having lawful control.
Magistrates gave May-Cunningham a one-month custodial sentence for detaining a child, two counts of assaulting a police constable, and use of threatening words or behaviour.
She was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £122 and court costs of £100.
As she had already done a month in custody whilst on remand, May-Cunningham was released after the sentencing.
Stay-at-home-mum Naomi said: ”I got a call from the police to say that she’d been sentenced to a month in prison.
”I was so relieved that I wouldn’t have to worry about Evie seeing Jennifer for a month at least.
”But when I got home after going to the shops she was stood there laughing.
”It was like someone punched me in the stomach.
”No one had explained that as she’d already done her time she’d be back on the estate – it was such a shock.”
She added: ”My little girl just couldn’t cope with seeing her again, especially the way she was cackling away at us.
”As soon as we got home she collapsed on the floor, she was retching and shaking uncontrollably.
”The kids are now living with their nanny.
”I’m furious with the housing office for letting her back.
”It’s as if they don’t really understand the significance of what’s happened – she stole my child.”