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Abduction case verdict due

PUBLISHED: 15:45 26 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010

A BUILDER accused of abducting a 12-year-old girl from a Suffolk children's home has told of his "shock and horror" at being questioned by police about her disappearance.

A BUILDER accused of abducting a 12-year-old girl from a Suffolk children's home has told of his "shock and horror" at being questioned by police about her disappearance.

Michael Gardner, 43, told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that he had not seen the girl, who he thought was 19, after dropping her off in London and was worried when the police told him she was only 12 and had gone missing.

"The police came to see me obviously thinking I'd got something to do with it. My initial feelings at the time were shock and horror," he said.

Gardner, of Sydenham, London, has denied child abduction in July last year.

He told the court he got to know the girl on a phone chatline and arranged to come to Ipswich to meet her.

He said the girl told him her name was "Lisa" and that she was 19.

When he arrived at the address she gave him in Ipswich he thought it was her family home but the girl told him it was a halfway house where she was staying.

The jury was expected to retire to consider its verdict today.

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