Sweeney Victim Mother Speaks Out
The mother of a toddler who was kidnapped 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 and called for the law to be changed immediately. She said: “Regardless of whether its a minor assault, or a major assault, there should be a minimum of 15 years.
“Never mind first offence, second offence, big deal, you do not lay a finger on a child.
“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.
“It was too horrendous of an attack for her to ever forget that face.”
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, and attacked her. The girl was found by police hours later in Wiltshire, after a high-speed car chase which began when police spotted Sweeney driving without his lights on.
The two police officers who stopped the car later said they believe they saved her life. 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: “I certainly believe there should be a children’s law.”
She said that 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 though 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,” the victim’s mother said.
“It’s never going to end.”