Police still hunting sex attacker

DCI Keith Ruff''w123532c
DCI Keith Ruff''w123532c

MORE than 50 officers are involved in the hunt to find a sex attacker who is still at large following a “serious” assault on a young girl in Whitby.

Twenty-five detectives are on the case with another 25 officers doing forensic tests and carrying out house to house enquiries following the incident in the town on Wednesday evening.

One of North Yorkshire Police’s top officers is leading the case and said a team of specially trained officers were working with the victim who is under 16 but he wouldn’t reveal her exact age.

Detective Chief Inspector Keith Ruff said even though they were still hunting the offender he believed it was a “stand alone, one off event.”

Police revealed at a press conference today (Friday) that the girl had been to the Youth Shack on New Quay Road on Wednesday 12 September and left on her bike between 8.30pm and 9pm.

She rode down Loggerhead’s Yard, which runs between New Quay Road and Baxtergate, and when she got to a Mackridges Yard that is where the attack took place.

He said: “She has been approached from behind, pushed from her bike and seriously sexually assaulted. She has been able to make good her escape on her bike where she raised the alarm. She has rejoined her friends and raised the alarm through her friends.”

DCI Ruff said they took her home and she told her parents who called the police just after 9pm that evening.

He added: “This is a very disturbing incident which has left the young victim and her loved ones extremely frightened and shocked.”

The description given to police is vague - that it was an adult male of slim build, wearing a black hoody - but officers are working with the victim to try and establish more detail.

They are also working with other agencies and asking them to check databases to see if anyone matches the description or displays “that kind of offending propensity”.

Even though the hunt for the offender is on-going police were keen to reassure the shocked community of Whitby and have stepped up patrols and drafted in extra officers from elsewhere in the county.

DCI Ruff added: “We are working with the community to manage the information flow in and out of the investigation and reassure them we are doing everything we can to keep them safe.

“We have not identified the offender, we are working towards doing that. What I would say is that it is a stand-alone event, it is a one off.

“Serious sexual assault carried out by a stranger is a very rare crime indeed, not least when the victim is so young. It is also unusual that the attack was carried out relatively early in the evening and in a generally busy part of the town centre, albeit in the alleyway which links New Quay Road and Baxtergate

“My appeal would be anybody who was in the area at that time, has any information regarding the identity of the offender or anyone with that description or has noticed anyone suspicious in the area between 8.30pm and 9pm come forward.

“If they are in any doubt, let me make the decision as to whether it is relevant.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.