Rape gang hunted by police

POLICE were today continuing their hunt for three armed men who forced their way into a house in Essex and raped two women in a "despicable" attack.The attackers – wearing skull masks like those seen in the horror film Scream – struck at a house in the Fairview Estate in Saffron Walden at 7.

By Annie Davidson

POLICE were today continuing their hunt for three armed men who forced their way into a house in Essex and raped two women in a "despicable" attack.

The attackers - wearing skull masks like those seen in the horror film Scream - struck at a house in the Fairview Estate in Saffron Walden at 7.30pm on Friday.

The two victims, both aged in their twenties, answered the door to be confronted by the masked men who were armed with knives and a handgun.


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The terrified women were tied to a bed and both raped in an attack described as "nothing short of brutality" by the detective in charge of the investigation. One of the women lived at the property, while the other was visiting.

The men, who police say were all about 5ft 4ins tall, also stole property from the victims' handbags in the 30-minute ordeal before fleeing from the scene.

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They are all thought to be aged in their twenties or thirties.

Chris Bayley, town and district councillor for Saffron Walden, said last night the attack had sent shockwaves around the local community.

She said: "I am appalled. Those poor women must feel absolutely awful and my heart goes out to them.

"Such a vicious attack with guns and knives is not Saffron Walden at all.

"People are frightened as you can imagine. People are shocked and there is also a feeling of wanting to do something to help but there is nothing you can do."

She said the Fairview Estate, which was built in the 1970s, was a "lovely community".

"Everyone knows you by your first name and this really has upset people and made ladies in particular feel very, very uneasy," she said.

Chief Superintendent Sue Harrison, of Braintree police, said detectives were working "flat out"' to

find the men responsible for the assault.

Police have spoken to 70 residents and around 200 drivers as part of their investigation.

An Essex Police spokesman said: "We want to hear from anyone who might be able to help us find these men.

"They are all quite small men and may have been seen before or after the attack.

"We are assuming they arrived in a car and left quickly in a car after the attack.

"We want to hear from anyone who might have heard a car driving off at speed or anyone who heard any signs of disturbance.

"We think that the men probably knew their victims although their victims may not have known them.

"The two women are now with trained officers and are giving us as much information as they can recall.

"One man wore a brown jacket and two wore black jackets. One of the men was also carrying a red and black rucksack."

The spokesman said the attack lasted for about 30 minutes and the women had managed to free themselves and raise the alarm after the men left the house.

The investigation is being led by Det Supt Win Bernard, of Harlow Major Investigation Team (MIT), who described the attack as "nothing short of brutality."

Anyone with information should contact the MIT on 01279 641188 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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