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Girl left shaken after mystery van follows her

A worried mum wants the community to know about a terrifying incident her 11-year-old daughter went through on Monday afternoon after school.

The Ilminster Intermediate student was walking on Graham Road when a black van driven by a man with a bird tattoo on his neck began to slowly follow her.

The mother said it seemed like he was trying to control where she walked.

As her daughter tried to turn direction and head home, he cut her off, so the young girl began to walk and run towards town.

She made it to a friend’s home, called her parents and they collected her and took her to the police station straight away.

“We weren’t going to muck around,” said the mother. “She gave her story on what happened and showed them the path she had taken.

“From the sounds of it he was trying to guide her the opposite way to where she was going.”

The girl’s father left them at the police station to make a statement and went straight to Ilminster to to let staff know what happened.

The student described the man as having a bird tattoo on his neck, “like an eagle”, which must have been on his right side since he was driving. He was also wearing a plain black cap.

“We just want to let everybody in Gisborne know — keep an eye out for the children,” said the mother. “If you drive past and see something suspicious, stop and ask if they’re alright.

“I’m a very worried mum. My girls are growing up and are not really aware of those kinds of people out there.”

The woman said it would be great to organise safe houses on the school route home, where students knew they could get help.

“Or just the knowledge that if you see a shop or a dairy, to run in there, not just for the girls, for the boys too — for all our children.”

The parents have reinforced a “waiting plan” for their daughter, which is to wait outside the school until she is picked up by either parent.

Her daughter was still quite shaky, said the mother. People had been taking photos of men in black vans and sending them to the mother over private message on Facebook but so far the man had not been identified.

Police confirmed they were aware of the report and were making inquiries.

Ilminster Intermediate principal Peter Ferris said the school was informed about the incident.

“If any students are confronted by a black van with tinted windows they are to inform an adult immediately, make sure they are safe and also endeavour to get a licence plate number,” he said.