CCTV footage has captured the moment a father and bystanders fought to save a two-year-old boy from a “psychotic” would-be kidnapper outside a library in Melbourne’s north.
- The footage shows the attacker suddenly approaching his victims, who he did not know, and grabbing the boy
- After punching the father several times, Michael Paul Rawson began to run away with the child
- The 41-year-old attacker later told a doctor he recalled seeing a child he believed was his own
The violent attempted kidnapping unfolded on the evening of November 25 last year, when 41-year-old Michael Paul Rawson, who was under the influence of methamphetamines and the drug GHB, attempted to grab the boy from his father outside the Preston library.
At a plea hearing in the County Court of Victoria on Tuesday, prosecutors said the father was helping his son down from a seat when Rawson approached and said: “I will help him down”.
Rawson then grabbed the boy with both hands and pulled him away from his father, who yelled: “Don’t take the child.”
Rawson punched the father in the back of the head several times before succeeding in grabbing the boy and running several metres. He was then tackled by a bystander who had run to assist.
After wrestling the screaming boy away, more bystanders attempted to restrain Rawson, but he overpowered them and ran away.
He was found later hiding in the garden of a block of flats where he was arrested.
The father suffered a cut to his lip and swelling under his left eye and on the back of his head.
Rawson, who did not know his victims, had been released on bail from nearby Preston Police Station minutes before the attack.
‘Unprovoked, sustained and violent’ attack
Rawson was charged and pleaded guilty to attempted kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault, three of recklessly causing injury, five charges of assaulting an emergency worker and four counts of resisting an emergency worker.
In their submissions, prosecutors argued Rawson’s offending was “unprovoked, sustained and violent”.
They said the “terrifying” attack had a “significant” impact on the father and son.
“The victims were simply going about their evening walk when they were brazenly attacked by the offender in what should have been a safe place,” the prosecution’s submission said.
“The CCTV footage makes clear that the offender engaged in a continued assault on the victim in an attempt to take his two-year-old child from him.
“The offender did not desist in the assault until he had taken hold of the child.”
‘Psychotic state’ likely due to combination of drugs
Prosecutors accepted the attempted kidnapping was “out of character” for Rawson and the combined effects of the drugs he was regularly taking may have affected his judgement.
A medical report stated Rawson had stopped work in 2016 due to mental health difficulties related to his marriage breakdown and he had been using cannabis and ice.
The report found Rawson, who recalled seeing a child he falsely believed to be his own, may have experienced a “transient drug-induced psychotic state characterised by delusional misidentification”, due to the combination of drugs.
Rawson’s defence lawyers noted a prison sentence was likely to be imposed, but argued he nevertheless had “good prospects of rehabilitation” with the support of his family and had entered a guilty plea early.
Rawson is due to be sentenced on September 22.