Fresh chance for father who snatched his child

A BEDTIME story turned to terror when a drunken dad snatched his two-year-old child from her home and left a chilling message for his estranged partner: “If I can’t have her, nobody can.”

Mum Andrea Qualter was left “petrified” by the potential threat to their daughter, Macy, and sparked a major police hunt which involved the force helicopter. The youngster was later found safe and well at Thomas Bellingham’s home.

A judge at Doncaster Crown Court was persuaded to let the 25-year-old walk free after reading a “heartfelt” letter from him, along with one from his former partner.

Bellingham, of Childers Street, Hyde Park, pleaded guilty to charges of common assault and possessing an offensive weapon when he entered Mrs Qualter’s house in Beech Avenue, Tickhill, on June 23.

Prosecutor Carl Fitch said the defendant had been in a relationship with Mrs Qualter for three years which ended in May due to various problems including mental health issues exacerbated by Bellingham’s excessive drinking.

Mrs Qualter had told him he could not see Macy, and at 10pm on June 23 she was reading her daughter a story at bedtime when the pair heard banging on the door.

Mrs Qualter’s father opened the door to be confronted by Bellingham who was holding an iron weights bar. He rushed upstairs, shouted: “If I can’t have her, nobody can”, and took hold of Macy before leaving the house.

Bellingham later rang Mrs Qualter to tell her Macy was ‘alright’.

When officers found them at Bellingham’s house he insisted he had done nothing wrong because Macy was his daughter, and he alleged she was being used as ‘a weapon’ against him, which had caused him to suffer depression.

Mrs Qualter said: “He put me through hell while our daughter was gone. I thought I’d never see her again.”

Bellingham’s solicitor, Karen Tunnicliffe, submitted letters from her client and from Mrs Qualter suggesting he needed help with his problems. “He appreciates the jeopardy he is in. He admits he was in drink and that clouded his judgement.”

Imposing a six month prison sentence suspended for a year, and 180 hours of unpaid work, the judge also ordered him to attend an alcohol treatment programme.