A cowardly mugger who punched a two-year-old girl in the face when her mother refused to give up her handbag was being hunted by police today.
Maria Sharma, 28, was pushing her twins Paris and Sunny along a busy road in Slough, Berkshire, when the vile attack took place in broad daylight.
A man, who Mrs Sharma described as ‘looking possessed’, tried to snatch her handbag, which was hanging from the toddlers’ pushchair.
When the single mother-of-four fought back, he crouched down and punched Paris full in the face.
Maria Sharma and her daughter Paris
‘Animal’: A mugger punched two-year-old Paris Sharma in the face while trying to steal her mother Maria’s handbag
He then again attempted to run off with Mrs Sharma’s handbag, but its strap was caught around the pushchair’s handle and he ended up dragging the screaming children along the pavement.
The man stole her purse and keys before running off.
Both children were injured in the attack, which left Paris covered in blood with a split and swollen lip and scrape marks across her face. She was taken to Wexham Park Hospital for treatment.
Mrs Sharma said: ‘He went to snatch the bag from the handle of the pushchair.
‘My automatic reaction was to not let him have it. We were struggling for a minute and then he released and I thought he was going to run away.
‘But he went to the front of the pushchair, crouched down, clenched his fist and punched my daughter in the face.
‘The twins instantly both started screaming.’
Mrs Sharma was also left severely bruised after struggling with the attacker, described as a black man in his early twenties.
She said today: ‘I keep beating myself up about it. I keep thinking, should I have given him the bag or should I have hit him?
‘I feel like a failure as a mother.’
Police officers investigating the Tuesday lunchtime attack took swabs from Paris’s face in an attempt to identify the suspect through DNA profiling.
Detective Constable Gareth Warr said: ‘The woman and her children have been left very shaken by this attack.
‘As it happened in the middle of the day, it is likely that there were people in the area that may have either witnessed the incident or saw some suspicious activity. I would urge them to get in touch.
Mrs Sharma added: ‘The twins are so traumatised, every time someone knocks at the door they scream. They are not sleeping properly and they are not eating as much as they used to.
‘I can’t believe anyone would do that. You hear about people attacking a woman all the time, but to attack a child, I can’t even put into words how I feel about this man.
‘I hope anyone who knows him and what he’s done will turn him in and he is jailed for many years.’
The man is described as black, with short hair, 5ft 7ins tall, of stocky build and was wearing a black shiny puffer jacket and black Adidas trainers.