Gardai fear there may be more than one sex attacker on the loose after fifth woman assaulted in just weeks
FIVE women have been sexually assaulted in the same area of west Dublin in just weeks – with gardai now fearing there may be more than one sex attacker on the loose.
On Monday, a young woman was attacked in broad daylight by a man who approached her at random, before groping her and fleeing.
She was believed to be fifth sexual assault victim in the area since the middle of May.
Investigators are probing the theory that there may be more than one sex attacker targeting the west Dublin suburb.
As part of the garda response, senior officers have directed that uniformed patrols in certain areas be increased.
Independent.ie has learned that gardai are investigating at least five sex attacks, all carried out in the Blanchardstown area.
In each incident, the victims were approached by an unknown man and groped before the attacker fled the scene.
The young victims – all aged in their teens and 20s – have given a similar description of the offender, saying he is a tanned man of slim build in his early to mid-20s.
The first of three attacks took place in May while two further assaults were reported this month.
It has now emerged that gardai are probing the possibility that more than one attacker could be targeting women in west Dublin, as a chief suspect in the initial attacks is currently in custody on separate charges.
Between May 10 and 11, three attacks were reported in the Manorfields area of Blanchardstown.
Owing to the nature of the attacks they are all being treated as sexual assaults by gardai.
A number of suspects were identified and last month gardai arrested a man.
He was detained at Blanchardstown Garda Station and quizzed before being released without charge.
The chief suspect is in custody awaiting trial over a separate matter.
However, while this criminal has been locked up, at least two other similar sexual assaults have taken place in the Blanchardstown area.
On July 6, a woman was targeted as she walked home in the Hartstown area.
The victim reported being groped by a man in his mid-20s and described him as being slim and tanned.
The man assaulted the woman at around 11pm before fleeing on a bicycle.
A fifth sex attack of a similar nature was reported to gardai last Monday .
A young woman reported to gardai that she was sexually assaulted in the Manorfields area after being approached from behind by a man.
The incident happened at around 2pm and is under investigation by Blanchardstown gardai.
“There are a number of different theories, including that there is more than one man going around and groping women,” a source said.
“It could be linked to the earlier sex attacks, or it could be completely isolated.
Gardai are hopeful of bringing prosecutions.
“Luckily, no one has been seriously physically injured, but it is a very frightening experience for the victims.
“There is obviously a lot of people in the area who are worried and gardai are doing everything they can to bring charges against those responsible.”
All the attacks are understood to be completely random in nature.
Gardai are hopeful that DNA evidence will assist the investigation and help identify who is responsible for the horrific attacks.
Investigators are confident that one man is responsible for the three earlier attacks, and are attempting to establish if the same individual was also behind the assault that took place on July 6.
The number of sexual offences reported in the Blanchardstown garda district and surrounding areas – the DMR west division – has increased slightly in recent years.
There were a total of 146 recorded rapes and sexual assaults in 2015 in the entire garda division, which also includes the Lucan and Clondalkin areas.
That compares with 166 such crimes that were reported last year.