Takeaway raided in sex attack probe

By Sharon AsplinA MAJOR police operation has been launched after three women claimed they were subjected to serious sexual assaults, including rape, at a fast food outlet.

By Sharon Asplin

A MAJOR police operation has been launched after three women claimed they were subjected to serious sexual assaults, including rape, at a fast food outlet.

Officers arrested 18 men in the early hours of Saturday in relation to allegations made by customers using the Colchester takeaway over the course of a month. At least one woman has reported she was raped.

About 50 officers swooped on the Sphinx kebab house and takeaway in Queen Street at 3am as part of Operation Gondolier.


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The raid was conducted by officers from Colchester division with assistance from detectives and the Essex Police support unit.

They arrested 18 men, who were taken to Colchester Police Station, where detectives questioned them throughout Saturday.

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An Essex Police spokesman said the operation had been launched was in response to allegations from three women aged in their 20s and early 30s from the Colchester area, who had been customers at the fast food outlet.

"The operation went very well and was accomplished without any problems or injury to any party. These are allegations of an extremely serious nature and we are committed to investigating them thoroughly," he added.

The takeaway was closed on Saturday as a search team from Colchester police combed the premises, removing many fixtures and other items.

The Sphinx, which boasts Turkish cuisine, is a popular haunt for late-night revellers in the town where they are able to buy food over the counter or enjoy refreshments in a small room at the back of the premises.

Seventeen of the men, all aged between 17 and 50 and from the Colchester area, have been released on bail pending further inquiries to return to Colchester Police Station on February 24, 25 and 26. An 18th man is currently helping the Immigration Service with inquiries.

sharon.asplin@eadt.co.uk

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