Man sentenced to 9 years for Deerfoot Mall kidnapping

A man who kidnapped a 10-year-old girl from Deerfoot Mall in 2011 has been sentenced to nine years in jail and is now designated as a dangerous offender.

John Francis Dionne designated as a dangerous offender

A surveillance camera image taken in 2011 of a Dodge Caravan the suspect was believed to have been driving. ((Calgary Police Service))

A known sex offender with a history of violence has been sentenced to nine years in prison for kidnapping a 10-year-old girl from Deerfoot Mall in February 2011.

The victim's mother said Friday that her daughter is recovering.

"She's pretty strong and she has a great support system and she's dealing with it quite well actually."

Calgary police released this photo of John Francis Dionne in 2011. ((Calgary Police Service) )

The girl was shopping with her father when they became separated.

Dionne admitted to approaching her, claiming to be a police officer and accused her of shoplifting.

When the girl resisted, Dionne grabbed her and forced her into a minivan. He drove away with her in the front seat.

Stopped by RCMP

Soon after, RCMP pulled Dionne over, with the girl in the van, for a traffic violation on Highway 567.

But the child — who had not yet been reported missing — was frightened and didn't say anything to the officer, police said. Dionne was issued a speeding ticket and drove away.

A short time later, Dionne released the girl at a McDonald's restaurant in Airdrie, where she called 911.

Dionne was later arrested at his home and charged with kidnapping and impersonating a police officer.

John Francis Dionne was also designated a dangerous offender for his violent past.

"He recognized that he has issues that led him to this and he appreciated that this was an appropriate way of dealing with things," said defence lawyer Alan Fay on Friday.