Women are being warned to take extra care after a terrifying sex attack in Sheffield – by a thug who police say could strike again.
The man pounced from behind on a 50-year-old lone woman walking along a footpath in Shiregreen in the early hours of yesterday.
Today Inspector Simon Leake said women should vary their routes home, and park in well-lit public areas, while the hunt for the sex offender goes on.
“Detectives are working tremendously hard to identify this offender at the earliest opportunity, to bring him to justice and to stop him from possibly doing this again,” said Insp Leake.
“This is a rare offence, a serious sexual offence, which we are really concerned about.
“The advice we would issue - especially to women late at night - is to look for opportunities to reduce the chances of this happening again, by varying routes home and parking in well-lit public areas.”
The woman was targeted as she walked across grassland past trees at the junction of Hatfield House Road and Bellhouse Road.
The attack had been terrifying for the victim said Insp Leake, who works with the North East Sheffield Safer Neighbourhood Team.
“This was obviously extremely distressing and traumatising for her,” he said. “We have specialist officers to work with and support the victim through this.
“We cordoned off the scene straight away to maximise the opportunity to secure forensic evidence left there.
“We have also increased police visibility in the area by redeploying police officers and PCSOs.”
The culprit was white, aged 18 to 22, and around 5ft 6ins tall.
He spoke with a local accent and was wearing a black hooded top and black bottoms.
Officers have carried out house-to-house inquiries, and police patrols have been stepped up to reassure local residents.
Lisa Ward, who owns The Cutting Lounge hairdressers and beauty salon on Hatfield House Road, said: “I came to work past the crime scene and saw all the police and I knew it must have been serious.
“To hear what has happened makes you feel unsafe – we work late one night a week so it makes you worry.
“It happened close to Concord Park, where children like my daughter go, so it is terrifying somebody like this is prowling around where children play.”
Sarah Simmonite, 24, of Bellhouse Road, said: “I walked home from Holly House Social Club at midnight on the night it happened.
“I didn’t see anything that night but I woke up the next day to see all the police tape.
“It is shocking this happened on such a busy road with houses all around. There’s a park nearby too where kids play.”
Mum-of-one Claire Goodsman, 28, said: “With all the police activity people have been really worried.
“I don’t go out at night on my own anyway, but this would make me think twice if I did.”
Barbara Kirk, 71, added: “It is terrible. Around 18 months ago at the exact same junction a woman pulled up at the lights in her car and was dragged out by a man.
“It is worrying that who did this is still out there – I hope the police catch him.”
n Anyone with information about the attack should call police on 101 quoting incident 39 of August 9, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.