A MAN pictured pushing his baby daughter between high waves at Sunderland seafront today pleaded “I’m no bad dad”.
The father, who asked not to be named, was condemned by rescue services, as well as grieving families of those killed at sea, after he was caught on camera with his daughter as waves crashed over Roker promenade.
The 25-year-old, of Southwick, attracted national criticism for allegedly risking his daughter’s life – but today told the Echo he would never put her in danger.
“She was never in any danger. I would never do anything that might cause her any harm. Why would I?
“We were just out having some fun.
“There’s not much to do round there, you have to find your own amusement.
“There were loads of people down there doing the same – there were dogs swimming in the sea, and there were two workmen working near where we were.”
The dad said the family had been out for the day on Monday when he was unwittingly caught on camera by a photographer.
“We go down there quite a lot,” he said.
“We had been down to the amusements, she goes on the rides and we go on the machines and win her teddies and things.
“There’s not much to do when the weather’s not so good, so we were just having some fun. My dad and grand-dad used to take me there and do what when I was little.
“My partner was with me. There’s no way she’d have let me do anything that would have put our daughter at risk.”
The dad said the picture makes the situation see more threatening than it was.
“The weather and the waves weren’t that bad – there was no warning up from the council.
“The workmen were there doing some repairs to the concrete on the staircase.
“They wouldn’t have been working there if it was dangerous.”
Sunderland’s RNLI and Coastguard team’s criticised the dad’s actions as “potentially fatal,” and running the risk of “turning a nice family day out into a tragedy”.
Margaret Moan, a friend of the family of Mark Langton, 13, who was swept to his death from a slipway in Hendon in 2006, was among those to slate the man for his actions.
But the dad said he had been judged by people who did not know the full facts.
“I do feel for the people who have lost loved ones in tragic circumstances, but this was not like that.
“Stories have said I’m the worst dad in Wearside, I can think of lots of dads who are worse than me.”
* A boy was airlifted to hospital yesterday after dodging waves in North Tyneside.
The 12-year-old was on rocks near the Cullercoats shoreline when he was washed into the sea.