Vic man to stand trial for baby car kidnap

A man dumped a baby outside a Melbourne hair salon after he realised the infant was sleeping in the back seat of the car he had stolen.


Gassam Chehade, 42, stole the car when a couple left it unattended and with the keys in the ignition outside their workplace in Campbellfield.

Melbourne Magistrates Court heard Chehade realised the baby was in the back seat seconds after he began speeding from the scene.

Prosecutor Karen Argiropoulos said he drove 2.7km before dumping the baby boy, still strapped into his capsule, outside the salon and fleeing in the car in June.

Chehade, of Heidelberg West, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, child stealing and reckless conduct endangering life, but guilty to car theft.

Chehade told police he had initially contemplated returning the baby to his parents but feared they would attack him.

His lawyer Tara Hartnett told his committal hearing he wanted to ensure the baby and his parents would be reunited.

“He does not want to leave the child in an unsafe place, for example by the side of the road,” she said.

Chehade left the couple’s mobile phone, which had been in the car, beside the baby to make it easier to locate the parents, Ms Hartnett said.

“He made eye contact with the woman behind the (salon) counter who was on the phone, he put the capsule down and pointed to it,” she said.

The parents collected their child from the salon about 10 minutes later.

Ms Hartnett asked Magistrate Cathy Lamble to drop the kidnapping charge given it implied force had been used in the offending.

But Ms Argiropoulos argued the act of separating the parent and child constituted force.

“A jury could find that continuing to drive a car with a baby in the back seat away from the parents and without the permission of the parents constituted force,” she said.

Ms Lamble ordered Chehade to face a Victorian County Court trial at a date to be fixed.

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