Suspect quizzed as gardai investigate possible link between four sexual assaults
GARDAI investigating a possible link between a sexual assault in west Dublin and three similar attacks in recent weeks have arrested a suspect over an unrelated offence.
The investigation has been under way for several weeks after a number of young women reported being sexually assaulted by a lone male.
In all of the incidents, the suspect groped the victim before fleeing the scene. They are being treated as sexual assaults.
The most recent sexually motivated assault happened last Friday in the Hartstown area of Blanchardstown.
A young female reported being groped at around 11pm.
The attacker was described as being in his early to mid-20s, tanned and of slim build. After the brief incident, he fled the scene of a bicycle.
Independent.ie has learned that gardai have been trying to establish whether it is linked to previous sexual assaults in the area.
Over a two-month period, three similar sexual assaults carried out near the Manorfields area of Clonee were reported to gardai.
In each case, the victim was groped by a lone male before he fled.
The investigation is being led from an incident room set up in Blanchardstown Garda Station.
It is understood that a number of people of interest have been identified by gardai, and a man was questioned by gar dai in relation to the assaults. However, no charges have yet been brought in the case.
A suspect for the attacks is currently in custody being quizzed in relation to unrelated offence.
The way in which the sexual assaults have been carried out and the description of the suspect are the reasons for a link being considered.
It is understood two of the incidents were in May, while a third sexual assault was carried out early last month, leading to the incident room being established.
Senior officers have directed that uniformed patrols in certain areas be increased to ensure a high-visibility garda presence in the area.
A source said the aim is to prevent further sexual assaults in the area.
“In each case the victim is groped, and all of these crimes are being treated as sexual assaults,” the source said.
“Luckily, no one has been seriously physically injured, but it is a very frightening experience for the victims.
“These attacks are being treated very seriously and additional resources have been deployed in an effort to prevent further crimes of this type from happening.
“There are 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 victims are young females, and the attacks are understood to be random.
Gardai are hopeful that DNA evidence will help the investigation and identify the attacker.
Detectives are confident one man is responsible for the three earlier sexual attacks, and are trying to establish if the same individual is also behind last Friday’s assault.
The number of sexual offences reported in the Blanchardstown garda district and surrounding areas has increased slightly in recent years.
Throughout 2015, there were 146 recorded rapes and sexual assault in the division, which also includes the Lucan and Clondalkin areas.
This compares with 166 such crimes that were reported to gardai throughout last year.