A Sudanese migrant convicted of attempting to kidnap three minors in separate incidents has been jailed in France after claiming he just wanted to “have fun” with children.
Bakri I., 35, was sentenced to just 18 months in prison following a hearing at the Évry-Courcouronnes criminal court on Tuesday.
He was charged with three separate attempted kidnaps for incidents that occurred during a 12-day window in November and December last year.
On Nov. 23, the Sudanese national was spotted attempting to lead an 8-year-old boy by the hand away from a playground in Corbeil-Essonnes. The mother of the child witnessed the incident and intervened, dragging her son away from the man.
Just ten days later on Dec. 3, Bakri I. was again caught grabbing two 4-year-old twins by the hands at a market in the same town. Their mother and nearby vendors were alerted to the danger when they heard the children screaming for help and scared the assailant, who was reportedly visibly drunk, causing him to run from the scene.
Two days later, the man accosted and snatched a 2-year-old girl at the checkout of an Action store while her childminder was paying for her goods. The incident was caught on CCTV and used as evidence during the court hearing.
“I was shopping with a friend. I take my bank card out to pay and there he tries to take Mia. I hear screaming. My friend grabs him and he runs off,” the childminder told the court.
However, seemingly undeterred, the man again attempts to abduct the same child in a nearby store where the childminder had gone to locate a security guard.
“There, I met him again and he tried a second time to take her from my arms, saying ‘She’s my daughter,'” the young woman testified.
The event led to the arrest of Bakri I. who was subsequently placed in pre-trial detention.
When faced with accusations of abduction, the Sudanese migrant told the authorities he had “no intention” of “stealing” the children.
“Do you think I would have wanted to steal them in front of everyone, in a store like that?” he told the court through an interpreter.
He revealed that he is an alcoholic and claimed that he is “happy” when he is drunk and wants to play with children.
“I want to have fun with children, I touch their hands to pass the time. I don’t have a job. Afterward, I leave,” he added.
Following examination by an expert psychiatrist, the court heard how Bakri I. suffered from “severe alcoholism against a background of emotional and social isolation” and said it was plausible that his alcohol intake would have led to “behavioral disinhibition”.
The court also heard how the migrant had arrived in France from Sudan in 2016 and had been institutionalized in 2021.
In mitigation, Bakri I.’s defense counsel insisted there was “no evil connotation” in his client’s actions and that he merely wanted to “play with the children.”
Despite the argument that the man had “no malignant or perverse intention,” he was sentenced to an 18-month custodial sentence, six further months of probation, and ordered to compensate the victims for three counts of attempted kidnap.