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City centre 'groper' is targeting children (11)

A MANHUNT is under way in the city after a 'groper' sexually assaulted at least three young girls.

Gardai are hunting a man who they believe may have targeted dozens of schoolchildren at different city centre locations.

All the incidents took place in Dublin and sources say that officers are taking the incidents "extremely seriously".

The first reported incidents happened on the same Saturday at the start of this month in the Grafton Street area.

The suspect approached his victims from behind at different times during daylight hours. The first assault happened on Grafton Street, the other in St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre.

Both children were with their mothers when the man struck. He grabbed the children by their bottoms and groped them for a number of seconds before fleeing.



It is understood the two girls are aged 11 and 13. Their mothers reported the matter to gardai.

Specialist garda interviewers from Pearse Street Garda Station interviewed the girls who gave a full account of what happened to them and made formal statements.

The latest incident took place in the Ilac Centre at Henry Street on Saturday afternoon, when a young teenager who was shopping with her mother was approached from behind.

A source said: "The attacker's modus operandi during this incident was the same as during the two previous reported incidents – he rubbed the girl's bottom for a few seconds before attempting to flee.

"Unlike in the other incidents, the girl's mother and a security man managed to intervene, but the suspect still got away."

No official complaint was made to gardai about the third incident, but they became aware of it through intelligence.

The suspect is described as being between 19 and 21, always casually dressed and with the appearance of being a national of India or Pakistan or somewhere in the Indian subcontinent.

All the victims are Dublin girls and there are no links between any of them, according to sources.

A senior source said: "This is being treated extremely seriously.

"Gardai are confident that the same man has been involved in all the incidents.



"Analysis of CCTV and witness statements shows that what this fella is up to is no accident – he goes out of his way to rub these girls.

"The big concern at the moment is that he could have been involved in dozens of these incidents which gardai are unaware of because it has not been reported to them, for whatever reason.

"These incidents are not being treated as minor matters."