Police have released a photograph of a mother reunited with her four-week-old baby after a carjacking in Birmingham.
Clare O’Neill was injured as she tried to get her newborn daughter, Eliza, out of the vehicle as it was taken from her on Thursday afternoon.
O’Neill, 39, pulled up on her drive in Acocks Green, Birmingham, at 4pm and was approached by two men. As she fought to get her daughter out of the car, the men drove off. O’Neill sustained injuries to her face and legs during the struggle.
West Midlands police began a search for the baby, and 45 minutes later an ambulance crew at Small Heath health centre recovered her safe and well, still in her car seat.
Witnesses told the Birmingham Mail: “I heard someone shouting ‘my baby, my baby.’ I thought it was a domestic. Two cars sped off out of the street, her car following another car very closely behind. They were so close you couldn’t see the front licence plate on her car.
“I saw the car they arrived in but only one person was in it, so whether the accomplice was lying down or already on the street I don’t know. The woman was injured. She had abrasions on her legs and face.”
Neighbours rushed out to help O’Neill. Kanu Chavda, 68, said he and his wife heard screaming and shouting outside their home.
“When she looked out the window she saw a struggle going on. All of the residents came out and the mother was on the floor. She was bruised and bloodied,” he said.
“She said her baby had been snatched by two guys, with one wearing a black hood. I’ve lived here for 30 years and never known anything like this.”
DI Jim Munro said: “This incident has shocked the whole of our force area and we will leave no stone unturned in our search for the offenders. We have a team of officers trawling through CCTV and speaking to residents in Marie Drive, as well as fast-tracking forensic analysis of the baby seat.
“We are asking anyone who may have seen the grey Audi A3 S-line with registration number BJ66 YLV since yesterday afternoon to contact us.”
He added: “We are delighted that mother and baby have been reunited and we wish Clare a speedy recovery.”
The force tweeted the photograph with the message: “First pic of mum Clare O’Neill and baby Eliza released after terrifying #AcocksGreen carjacking ordeal.”
Neighbours said the family were expected home on Friday evening. Other locals turned up to leave flowers and clothes for the baby. Claudia Gardner, 43, had bought trousers for Eliza and said she had been kept awake all night thinking about the attack.
She left a note reading: “This is just to say that people out there are thinking about you, your baby and your family and are shocked by the horrendous incident you had to endure.”
Patients at the health centre praised two receptionists who found the baby. One said they managed to calm the child before calling police. “They were so calm and really looked after the baby. She was in safe hands,” said the patient, who did not want to be named.
The baby was examined at the health centre before being taken to Birmingham’s Heartlands hospital as a precaution.
On Tuesday another Audi S3 was stolen in a carjacking six miles away, in the Nechells area of the city. CCTV footage showed a young mother fleeing with her daughter, two, in Jameson Road at 1.30pm.
The carjackers had staged an accident and then jumped in the car as the father got out of the vehicle. West Midlands police said it was not yet known whether the two incidents were linked but it was one line of inquiry.