Town sex attackers still at large

By Dave GooderhamCOMMUNITY leaders have expressed their concern and disappointment as a town continues to be gripped with fear a year on from a series of sex attacks.

By Dave Gooderham

COMMUNITY leaders have expressed their concern and disappointment as a town continues to be gripped with fear a year on from a series of sex attacks.

Almost a year after an attempted rape at a primary school in Haverhill, followed by two alleged rapes in the space of just one month, police admitted they were no closer to finding any of the attackers.

On May 17 last year, a would-be rapist attacked a woman at knifepoint at Burton End Primary School. He forced her to the ground and attempted to take her trousers down, but she scratched and bit her attacker, forcing him to flee.

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Town council leader Mabon Dane, whose Haverhill North ward covers the primary school, said many women still felt concerned the attackers had not been caught.

“I think everyone is still frightened. The summer months are not so bad, but when it gets dark they know this person or persons have not been caught,” he added.

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“There were a number of women frightened after what happened and I want the police to keep this high profile until someone is caught.

“I am really concerned they haven't caught the culprit despite intense media coverage and that the incident happened in broad daylight.”

Burton End Primary School headteacher, Jess Long, said: “We are all very disappointed nothing has happened. The police have told us they are trying to keep it in the forefront of their minds, but the trail has gone a bit cold.

“We have not given up hope, but I hope he is caught before he does it again. I think the police have done all they can and they have stayed in contact and kept us up to date.

“I just hope if anyone knows anything suspicious, they have the courage to come forward before it happens again.”

The school has been given extra funding from Suffolk County Council to tighten up security.

In October, a woman in her 40s was attacked just yards from her front door on the Clements estate in Haverhill, while one month later a man was allegedly raped in the Jubilee Walk area of the town.

The close proximity of the attacks fuelled fears of a serial rapist, but Detective Chief Inspector Andy Henwood, who is leading the investigation into the school attack, said any link was unlikely.

“We believe it may have someone working in the area and this maybe why we have not traced anyone at this stage. I am disappointed that we have not been able to find the attacker at this stage but we remain positive,” he added.

Inspector Mark Jepson, of Haverhill police, said: “When you look at the statistics, Haverhill is a very safe place to live. Unfortunately, there are serious crimes in any town which are going to be difficult to prevent.

“But I would like to think people keep these incidents in perspective. These were particularly nasty incidents, which had a very serious affect on the victims and their families, but they shouldn't impact on the day-to-day living of people in Haverhill.”

The Burton End attack happened shortly after 6pm and the attacker was described as white, aged in his 30s, 5ft 10in tall and with short, dark, spiky hair.

The rape on the Clements estate took place at about 11.30pm on October 13. The victim was so traumatised that she was only able to give police a vague description of her attacker.

Anyone with information on any of the attacks should contact Suffolk police on 01284 774100 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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