Anita Ciancio is reunited with her baby, Montana Barbaro at the Royal Childrens Hospital as her father, Nick Ciancio, looks on. Credit:Shannon Morris


At just three weeks old, Montana was snatched from her car seat at the Brimbank Central Shopping Centre car park after her mother was doused with capsicum spray and punched in the jaw.

The outing was the first time Ms Ciancio had taken baby Montana out since her birth.

She was found two days later in a derelict house in North Melbourne, after a jogger heard a baby whimpering inside the burnt-out Erskine Street home. Montana’s head had been shaved by her kidnappers, and she was suffering from hypothermia.

A Victorian court heard the 2004 kidnapping was a spur-of the moment decision by Central Victorian man Mark McEachran to fulfil his wife’s desire for another child.

McEachran told his wife, Cheryl McEachran: “You want a baby, here’s your opportunity.”

Cheryl was initially sentenced to eight years with a minimum four-and-half years, while her husband was jailed for 11 years with a minimum of seven-and-a-half years.

Both pleaded guilty to kidnapping, causing serious injury and reckless conduct endangering life.

Ms Ciancio later told reporters she always knew her daughter would be found safe and well.

“My heart’s telling me she was okay. My heart told me all along that she was going to be fine,” she said. “I think a mum knows these things.”

Montana’s father, Joe, is a relative of gangland figure Pasquale Barbaro, who was gunned down alongside Jason Moran in a van in the car park of a Melbourne hotel in 2003.

Joe was jailed in 2005 for six years for his role in an amphetamine ring in Melbourne and Sydney.

Police have released an image of Montana in the hope someone may have seen her. She is described as 160cm tall, with a thin build, long brown hair and green eyes. She was last seen wearing a blue zip-up jumper, grey track pants and white shoes.

Anyone who has seen her should contact Wyndham North police station on 03 8734 1100.

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