Police step up hunt for rapist following Crimewatch appeal

MORE than 3,000 postcards are being put through letter boxes countywide, seeking further information about three sexual assaults.

The postcards have been produced by officers working on Operation Abbeymead – the investigation into the attacks which took place in Cheltenham, Innsworth and Gloucester in the last nine months.

A Crimestoppers reward of up to £5,000 is still being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.

Reconstructions of the crimes featured on the BBC’s Crimewatch last month and, while a number of useful leads were generated by the programme, the investigation still continues.

Detective Sergeant Angela Middlewood said: “We had a great response to Crimewatch and the programme was really beneficial in opening up some new lines of enquiry.

“However, we still believe someone in the local community knows who committed these crimes and we want them to come forward.

“Other people may have seen or heard something suspicious but might not have thought to mention it until now and we are also very keen to hear from them.

“The Crimewatch reconstruction was very hard hitting and I think it really brought these crimes to people’s attention in a really impactive way. It’s still available to view online, so I’d urge anyone who didn’t see it to view it and ring us with any information they might have.

“We are still determined to find the person or people responsible for these horrific attacks and we need the community’s help.”

While they are not being formally linked, all three cases are being examined together due to the similarities between the crimes.

The first attack took place on Wednesday, November 30 2011 at around 8.25pm.

An 18-year-old local woman was grabbed by a man as she walked through Welch Road playing fields, in the Hester’s Way area of Cheltenham.

He dragged her to an area of the park and then sexually assaulted her. It is believed that a balaclava was worn by the offender.

At around 6.45pm on Thursday, January 19 this year, a 16-year-old Gloucester girl was walking across the footbridge from Penrose Road to Evergreen Walk, which crosses the A40, at Innsworth when she was approached by a man.

The man threatened, assaulted and indecently assaulted the girl, before stealing her mobile phone. It is believed that a balaclava was worn by the offender.

On Wednesday, May 2 at around 10.30pm, a 20-year-old woman was attacked as she walked along a grassed area behind The Clock Tower, near West Lodge Drive, in the Coney Hill area of Gloucester. The offender tried to grab the woman’s handbag before pushing her to the ground and carrying out a serious sexual assault. He ran off in the direction of The Clock Tower.

Two men from the Gloucester area have been arrested during the course of the investigation and are on police bail. Inquiries are continuing and information from the public remains important to the enquiry.

The £5,000 reward is only available to anyone providing information to Crimestoppers leading to the arrest & conviction of any person or persons linked to the three incidents.

Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111 and also via www.crimestoppers-uk.org. Callers ringing Crimestoppers can remain anonymous and this does not prevent them from claiming the reward.

If you have been the victim of a sexual offence please ring police on 101, or 999 in an emergency. Support is also available through Hope House, the county’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre. The centre is contactable on 01452 754390.

The Crimewatch reconstruction can be viewed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/crimewatch/appeals/2012/07/gloucestershire_sex_attacks.shtml

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