An Italian teenager swore never again to use internet chatrooms after being held in Britain for nearly a month when he tried to see a girl who had complained of being maltreated.
Marco Accorinti, 17, and his father Sandro, 54, had been accused of planning to kidnap a 15-year-old Anglo-Pakistani girl from Swindon but have been released without charge.
Mr Accorinti said that the girl had complained to his son about her life during internet chats. She told Marco that her mother was mistreating her and she wanted to commit suicide. At Christmas Marco's family asked Alma and her mother to come to Florence on holiday, but the girl's mother had said that they could not make the journey because she had lost her job.
Worried about the situation, the father and son flew to Bristol last month. Mr Accorinti said: “We only wanted to get to know the girl and be of use to her. Perhaps we were disingenuous.” On arrival at a Swindon motel, they telephoned the girl's mother to ask if they could come to the house. The Accorintis said that she “sounded polite” and asked them to “have patience”. Soon afterwards police arrested the pair. They were held on suspicion of attempting to kidnap a minor. “We found ourselves in an ugly situation because of a misunderstanding”, Mr Accorinti said.
He had been held in prison while his son was at a detention centre for minors. The behaviour of the British authorities had been “correct at all times”, he added. The father and son thanked the personal intervention of Franco Frattini, the Italian Foreign Minister, Giancarlo Aragona, the Ambassador in London, and David Morante, the Consul-General.
Marco said that only the help of the Italian diplomats and a chaplain had “stopped me going mad”. He would no longer use internet chatrooms, he added. “I have grown up fast in the past few weeks.”