A POPULAR country trail was sealed off yesterday as police hunted a suspected rapist who struck at dusk.
Part of the Roman Ridge at Sunnyfields, Doncaster, was being treated as a crime scene while officers searched the path and hedgerow for clues to the reported sexual attack on a 25-year-old woman.
Meanwhile detectives were conducting house-to-house inquiries on nearby Stanley Road to trace potential witnesses.
Knots of worried mums gathered at the rear gate of Rosedale Primary School, which backs onto the public bridleway, as speculation mounted.
The alleged attack was reported just after 6.30pm on Tuesday, and the police helicopter spent time hovering over the location as officers on foot carried out a search of Sunnyfields.
Yesterday the woman was being interviewed in detail about what happened on the historic track which runs from York Road to Highfields.
The location is about 250 yards from the road, on a stretch overlooking Broad Axe Field.
The crime scene is close to where a teenage girl was attacked and raped more than 10 years ago. A Highfields man was later convicted and jailed.
Last night South Yorkshire Police were disclosing only limited information about the incident, which is understood to have involved one assailant.
A spokesman said: “Police officers are investigating a reported incident involving a 25-year-old woman, at around 6.30pm on Tuesday. The circumstances are unclear at this stage and officers are in the process of interviewing the woman.
“The alleged incident was reported as a serious sexual assault, and enquiries are ongoing to determine the exact circumstances.”
One resident of Stanley Road, Gordon Morris, who had not been aware of anything happening on Tuesday evening, told The Star: “We’ve been hearing all sorts of rumours about a girl being murdered or a child being raped.
“It’s frightening when the police won’t tell you anything. I went out at 9.30pm for a pint and there were lots of police cars about.
“It’s fairly quiet around here normally, and quite a lot of people use the Ridge for walking their dog.
“I’ve told them some people on this street have got CCTV cameras so I guess they’ll be looking into that.”
Another Stanley Road resident added: “The police have been round to see us but they wouldn’t tell us anything.
“I’ve heard a woman has been attacked but that’s as much as we know. The first I knew something had happened was when police vans turned up this morning.
“I could see a lot of mums talking outside the school and looking up the Ridge, which is unusual, so they must have been concerned.”
Police visited Rosedale Primary yesterday to offer assurance to staff and parents.