British Girl ‘Abducted From Thomas Cook Kids Club In Turkey By Woman’
A mum who claims that her five-year-old daughter was abducted by a woman after being left in a Thomas Cook holiday kids club in Turkey is suing the travel agent.
Now Janet Alexander, 46, alleges that her daughter, Rose, was taken by a stranger in April.
The senior charge nurse from Inverness, Scotland, says her youngest daughter was taken while at a supervised kids club at the Royal Wings Hotel in Antalya, Turkey.
After taking her eldest daughter Lois, nine, to a scuba lesson, Janet returned an hour later to discover that Rose was missing.
A frantic search for the youngster began and Janet described seeing staff turn to a woman in a hijab and speak to her in Turkish.
It is believed the ordeal came to an end 40 minutes later when another hotel guest spotted the blonde youngster walking with the woman near a main road within the hotel grounds.
Janet claims that hotel staff didn't even know the girl was gone and when the staff failed to answer any questions Janet took her two daughters to the local police station.
After speaking with an interpreter, Janet says police said they couldn't look into the matter as Rose was not physically harmed and had been returned safely.
It's claimed the little girl was invited to 'go for a walk' and thought it was okay as she remembered going for outside walks at pre-school.
The mother of two has now opened up about the experience - which she said is the 'most traumatic of my life'.
Janet said: "I was completely distraught, completely. There was chaos as everybody realised she was missing and started running around and people from around the pool started looking for her.
"I was really quite frozen with fear. This has been the most traumatic experience of my life. I thought my daughter was either dead or faced being trafficked and abused.
"People need to realise these staff-led play groups aren't the safe places we believe them to be. I'll never trust Thomas Cook again."
The holiday was the first ever trip abroad for Janet and her daughters. The family was three days into a week-long break when the incident happened.
Janet, a nurse with NHS Highland, remains shaken by the incident and hasn't been able to return to work due to suffering from extreme anxiety and post-traumatic stress.
Janet has voiced her anger at Thomas Cook who she claims haven't apologised for what went on.
She said: "No matter how much I process things it just leaves me in pieces. I've been shaking and in tears ever since it happened - I even struggle to leave the kids at school now.
"My work, neighbours, family and friends have all been really supportive. Even though they couldn't do anything, the Turkish police were kind and sympathetic.
"But Thomas Cook have been a disgrace - they haven't apologised and have actually gone to great lengths to ignore me.
"What happened has changed our whole way of living and without even apology it's like I can't get closure and don't know how to heal."
Janet has now launched a civil claim stating that Thomas Cook failed to respond to repeated calls for help during and after the incident. She hopes the outcome will lead to improved safety standards.
She added: "I think it's terrible that they would leave a family abandoned in a foreign country and not make sure, not only that we were ok, but that the current users of the facilities are ok as well.
"Because obviously I felt the other children that were using the club were then at risk."
Simon Richards, Associate with the Foreign and Travel department at Digby Brown Solicitors, is pursuing the legal case which could be worth a five-figure sum.
He said: "Janet and her loved ones understandably feel traumatised by this incident.
"Thankfully Rose was safely reunited with her family but her abduction had a very serious and lasting detrimental impact.
"The Royal Wings Hotel breached its contractual duties by failing to look after children in its play area but Thomas Cook are ultimately responsible as it is the company who sold the holiday.
"The case is ongoing so it would be inappropriate to comment further."
A spokesperson for Thomas Cook said: "We were very concerned to hear of this incident and we understand how distressing it must have been.
"We are investigating thoroughly with the hotel to understand what happened and we will work with the hotel to make any required changes so that this can't happen again.
"Our customer welfare have got in touch with the customer, outside of the legal process and offering support to Ms Alexander in any way they can help."
The Royal Wings Hotel has been contacted for comment.
Featured Image Credit: SWNS