A boy of ten suspected to have been kidnapped by a paedophile was rescued after he was seen banging on a flat window shouting ‘please help, I’ve been kidnapped’.
He had been snatched off the street 300 yards from his home.
He was found naked and tied to a radiator with a white sheet in the empty flat two hours later after shouting to a passing woman for help.
The flat is part of a block which houses some ex-offenders 300yds from the victim’s own home and around 500yds from a school.
Jean Masih, 49, saw the boy at the window as she walked by the property in Oldbury, West Midlands, on Sunday morning on her way to a shop.
Neighbour Lee Lundy said police had told him the flat was done up like ‘Santa’s grotto’ with tinsel, trees and presents inside.
He described it as a ‘half-way house’, while a former drugs offender who used to live in the block said he had been introduced to the address through his probation officer.
He said: ‘Some of the residents were ex-offenders. There were lots of suspicious-looking people there.’
One of the men is understood to live at the flat, where computer equipment has been removed for examination.
The boy was taken to hospital but was said to be uninjured. Police said he would be ‘very slowly and carefully interviewed’ in the coming days.
A spokesman said the three men have no known connection to the boy.
Last night, the family’s rented three-bedroom semi-detached home stood empty. Neighbours said they had only moved to the area a year ago, but had ‘packed up and left’ following their ordeal.
Mrs Whiteside said that the boy’s mother had been ‘absolutely beside herself’ and she had seen her ‘screaming and crying’ at police officers to ‘find him, find him’. Mrs Whiteside added: ‘Then a local lady, Jean, came up the road and said “They’ve found him, they’ve got him”.’
‘She was so worried because he always walked straight home like she told him.’
Mr Lundy added: ‘It’s been a halfway house for quite a few years. We’re not very pleased that people like that live around here.’ He said there was ‘always trouble’ at the block.
It is run by a charity called Adullam Homes Housing Association which supports and mentors ‘vulnerable people throughout the...Midlands’. Last night, there was no answer at its West Bromwich office.
West Midlands Police said the block was owned by a housing association and ‘we would like to make it clear the property is not a bail hostel’.
Last night, up to 200 protesters gathered outside the block of flats, watched by police.
Aaron Stevens, 32, who organised the gathering, said: ‘People are really angry. Police say it’s not a bail hostel but we’ve heard there may have been paedophiles in there.’