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3rd February 2014

Man sexually assaults five women in Withington

Offender targeted young women on their own at night

Police are investigating after one man is believed to have carried out five sexual assaults in Withington.

All the victims were lone women in their 20’s, and many were out jogging before being grabbed and sexually assaulted by the man.

The attacks occurred between 6th January and 25th January, and took place on or around Everett Road between 6.15pm and 11.00pm.

Police have warned women to be vigilant and stick to well-lit areas, or try to not go out alone.

Detective Sergeant Doug Cowan said: “The purpose of this appeal is not to alarm people but to alert women of the risks posed to them and to be on their guard”.

However, the residents of Everett Road, many of whom are students, were not aware of the threat until reports began to circulate on social media.

Susan Massey, a fourth year Speech and Language Therapy student who lives on Everett Road,  said: ‘I am surprised that the police have not told us, especially given that these attacks seem to be happening in the early evening, when I am less likely to be on my guard than late at night.

“In our block of flats someone printed out the news story and stuck it on the main door, which immediately made everyone very aware of the situation.

“It should be the job of the police to do this, as not everyone has a friend or neighbour who is concerned, and people need to know”.

The first victim was assaulted on Everett Road at around 11.00pm on 6th January.

Then, on 15th January, the second woman was jogging on Burton Road when she was sexually assaulted by the man at 10.15pm.

A week later the offender assaulted two women on the same night, grabbing a jogger on Palatine Road between 6.15pm and 7.15pm and then another woman on Copson Street at 11pm.

The most recently reported incident took place on 25th January at 9.15pm, again on Palatine Road.

These attacks on women follow reports earlier in the month of two women being mugged in separate incidences on the same night in Withington on 10th January.

Police are concerned that even more women may have been victims of the sexual assaulter, and urge anyone who has not yet come forward to do so.

Susan said: “I do feel very worried now. I have often walked home alone in the early hours of the morning, and after these attacks I realise what a risk I was taking.

“I felt safe enough to do that then, but this has changed overnight and I am even worried about finishing university at 5.00pm because that means getting home in the dark”.

The offender is described as slim and between 5ft 5in and 5ft 8in tall, wearing a hoody and baggy jogging bottoms.

The police are appealing for any witnesses, any other victims who have not yet come forward or anyone who has seen suspicious behaviour from a man matching the above description to contact them.

 Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or 0161 856 4973.

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