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12th January 2011

Student assaulted in Withington

A 20-year-old female student was attacked in Withington last week as she made her way home from a night out. Police are warning students to take extra care when walking home alone.

A 20-year-old female student was attacked in Withington last week as she made her way home from a night out. Police are warning students to take extra care when walking home alone.

The Manchester Metropolitan student was raped after 4.20am on Friday 24th September 2010 in Withington. The student got out of a taxi at Sainsbury’s, Fallowfield, with a friend but they then walked home in opposite directions. On Amhurst Road the victim saw a man standing beside a black five-door car, he initially asked her for a cigarette but then grabbed her, and pushed her into the back seat of the car. He then drove around and stopped on Atwood Road where the assault took place.

The student was attacked with a weapon similar to a skewer or long knitting needle and was left with injuries to her eye and back. The attacker then let the student out of the car but drove off with her clothes and handbag. The student made her way to a nearby house where the police were then called.

The man is described as Asian, overweight, 5ft 10inches tall and aged in his late 20s to early 30s. He had a shaved head with dark eyebrows and spoke with an English accent. Police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to come forward.

The rape is thought to be linked to an incident days earlier when an attacker fitting the same description stood beside a black saloon car on Alan Road, and tried to grab a woman who ran off and called the police.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Eckersley of South Manchester CID, said of the attack: “The victim has been through a horrific and traumatic ordeal and she is currently being supported by trained officers.

“Many students may be going out in Manchester after the summer break and I would urge them to take care when planning their route home. Please don’t walk home on your own, arrange for a taxi to drop you off outside your house and if you are walking and become concerned about someone, go to the nearest house for safety.

“There are dedicated officers patrolling the area to deter offenders and keep students safe and I would ask if anyone has seen anything that seemed suspicious, no matter how small or insignificant to please call us.”

As reported in The Mancunion last week, Operation Safe Return is currently in action, and over 50 police officers are patrolling student-populated areas on car, by bike and on foot to tackle student-related crime.

Hannah Paterson, the University of Manchester Welfare Officer, makes it clear that this type of incident is rare: “It’s really rare and not an everyday occurrence, but be vigilant and watch yourselves.

“People who come from smaller towns may assume that it’s safe, and walk through parks, but just don’t do it. Unfortunately parks are dangerous places, and alley ways as well, and it’s worth walking that extra five minutes and down a brightly-lit road then down a badly lit alleyway – it is your safety that is at stake.

“Students should walk home together in groups, get a taxi straight to their door and not get them to drop them off somewhere else where they walk the extra bit. Get home safely together.

“There are support services within the city including St Mary’s Sexual Assault Centre and Trafford Rape Crisis Centre to talk about any issues you might have faced and regarding the attacks that have happened.”

Detective Chief Inspector Eckersley reassured the community: “We are determined to find the man responsible and if you have any information that will help us do it, please don’t hesitate to call us.”

Paterson is also issuing attack alarms, and is available for advice and extra information. The Welfare Office is located on the First floor in the Students’ Union building, in the Advice Centre.

The Mancunion also encourages students to ask about the Union £1 safety bus, that drops you right at your door. Information and pick up is available at the reception of the North and South campus Union buildings.

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