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Mum's reply as police called to Tesco over boy, 9, selling air fresheners

Donnan McHale purchased packets of four air fresheners for £1 at a shop and sold each for the same price outside a Tesco petrol station near his home. He quickly saved enough to treat himself to a new coat, phone, bike and tracksuit.

But two police constables knocked on the family’s door last week following a “complaint” from the boy’s primary school. 

Teachers at Sacred Heart Primary School in Gorton, Manchester, also pulled Donnan out of classes to talk to him. It emerged the youngster had been spotted outside the petrol garage and concern was raised for him.

Children’s services at Manchester City Council were even alerted of the concern for Donnan’s “welfare and safety”.

But the boy’s mum Alicia told Manchester Evening News she was left upset and embarrassed at how the incident was handled.

“They (police officers) wanted to speak to Donnan and ask what’s going on [with the air fresheners],” Alicia said.

“Donnan explained. The officers were absolutely fine with it.

“They said they would have to pass it on to the care team but they thought he was doing a great job.

“I was shocked, I’ve never had police at my door.

“We’re really proud of Donnan – they should be praising him for doing something like this when we’ve got children causing havoc on the streets.”

Teachers spoke to Donnan at school in the previous days. Alicia says she wasn’t part of any conversation.

The mum, of Gorton, added: “[The teacher] didn’t tell me what had gone on, he didn’t tell me that he had rung police.

“It should have been the headteacher, it should have been a discussion between us [his parents] and the headteacher.”

Alicia said she had spoken to the manager at Tesco who said they would “keep an eye” on her son and she left them her phone number.

She continued: “He was only doing it for an hour after school each night before he came home to get his tea.

“It’s just round the corner.”

In a statement, Greater Manchester Police confirmed their officers were responding to a “concern for the welfare of a child”.

The force said: “In January 2022, police received a report of concern for the welfare of a child in the Gorton area.

“Officers attended the child’s home address and completed the necessary checks and paperwork.”

Suzanne Walker, deadteacher at Sacred Heart Primary School, said: “We take the health and wellbeing of our pupils both in school and out very seriously and it is our duty to seek further advice and guidance if concerns are raised with us about the welfare and safety of any of our pupils.”

The council, controlled by the Labour Party, said: “Whilst it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on an individual child’s circumstances, we would of course always want to reassure ourselves that appropriate measures were in place to ensure a child or young person’s safety and welfare at all times.”

A Tesco spokesperson said: “When our colleagues heard that Donnan wanted to raise some money to buy his little sister a Christmas present they were very touched and they made sure he was safe at our store.”



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