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Mother reunited with baby snatched by thieves during car-jacking

Clare O’Neill and her baby Eliza, after the four-week-old girl was inside an Audi which taken in a car-jacking in Birmingham Photo: Press Association Images

This is the first picture of a mother and her four-week-old baby reunited after being put through a nightmare car-jacking ordeal.

Clare O’Neill is seen in a hospital gown, smiling, despite a nasty-looking head wound, with little baby girl Eliza cradled in her arms, after they were caught up in an incident on Thursday.

Mrs O’Neill arrived home in Birmingham in her Audi A3, with Eliza in a baby carrier on the back seat, when two men pounced and demanded her car keys at about 4pm, West Midlands Police said.

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As she desperately tried to get her daughter out the vehicle, the callous thieves drove off leaving Mrs O’Neill injured in the street just yards from her own front door.

A huge police operation swung into action involving dozens of specialist officers and a helicopter, in a bid to track the S-line Audi – and precious Eliza.

However, the child was found about 45 minutes later by an ambulance crew at Small Heath health centre.

The baby girl was still in her car seat, and described by police as “blissfully unaware of the drama she had been involved in”.

She was reunited with her mother in hospital, where Mrs O’Neill remains, recovering from her injuries and the ordeal.

The force, which released the picture of mother and baby, has again issued a public appeal for information as the hunt for the two men is continuing.

Overnight, Chief Constable David Thompson, of West Midlands Police, said: “Great we have reunited mum and baby.

“If you know the idiots who did it let us know.”

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At the family home in Marie Drive on Friday, banners stating “It’s a girl” were up in the windows of the end terrace home, until a female neighbour came to take them down.

The neighbour declined to comment to reporters, although another said she had spoken with Mrs O’Neill overnight in hospital adding she was recovering.

Another, Claudia Gardner – who was moved to come and bring flowers and baby clothes to the house – said: “When it’s so close to your house, it’s shocking.

“I’m just so glad they’re back together.”

The 43-year-old teacher, of Olton Boulevard East, Birmingham, added: “I’ve been told she will probably not be home until tonight at the earliest because they drove over her arm and dragged her along the road.”

Detective Inspector Jim Munro, of West Midlands Police, 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.

“We are delighted that mother and baby have been re-united and we wish Clare a speedy recovery.”

Anyone with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.