Sunday 22 April 2018

Rapist dressed as an 'old fashioned doorman' caught on CCTV carrying off victim

The 'disturbing' footage shows a smartly-dressed man walking around Leeds city centre prior to the attack before picking up his victim

Detectives hunting a rapist have released "disturbing" CCTV footage of a 24-year-old woman being carried off by the man before the attack.

The victim was walking to get a taxi home after a night out in Leeds when she was approached by the man, who picked her up in his arms and carried her away.

West Yorkshire Police said the "traumatised" woman agreed for the footage to be released in the hope that her attacker would be identified and arrested.

The attack bears striking resemblances to a rape in Birmingham where an unconscious woman was also carried away by a rapist and attacked.

Officers from West Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police are helping each other in what appears to be a copycat attack.

In Leeds the victim was walking to get a taxi home after a night out when she was approached by the man, who picked her up in his arms and carried her away.

Police said the "traumatised" woman agreed for the footage to be released in the hope that her attacker would be identified and arrested.

Detectives said they "strongly believe" other CCTV clips, from the night of the attack in August, show the man searching for someone to attack before focusing on the victim.

The man approached the victim and walked with her before picking her up and taking her to the scene of the attack in Mark Lane, next to the St John's shopping centre, shortly after 5am on August 14.

The footage shows him walking around Leeds city centre prior to the attack and police want to trace a woman he approached in Swinegate at about 4.45am.

They would also like to speak to a man seen walking in the opposite direction to the attacker when he approached this woman and the driver of a taxi parked nearby.

The man's appearance has been described by police as a "1990s doorman" but Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs is satisfied that he is not a doorman working in the local area.

Police believe he knows the area so may live in Leeds or have lived there previously.

 He said: "I would describe him as an old fashioned doorman, quite an imposing figure, aged 30-40, wearing smart black clothes.

"I am fairly happy from the enquiries that we have made that he is not a local doorman so we need to look at why he was in the city dressed smartly.

"Was he attending a dinner or a function? What reason did he have to be in Leeds?"

From CCTV, police believe he met his victim whilst walking up Briggate in Leeds, West Yorks.

 The footage - which has not been released - shows him walking with his victim for around ten minutes, until they make their way to Dortmund Square, where he physically picks her up.

The disturbing CCTV then shows the victim limp in the man's arms as he carries her around a corner on Mark Lane in Leeds, West Yorks., on Friday August, 14 just before 5am.

Detective Twiggs said: "We don't know if he assaulted her prior to picking her up.

"We don't have that on CCTV and the victim cannot be sure.

"There has obviously been some force during the attack but there was also not a lot of resistance from the victim."

The 24-year-old woman who lives in Leeds had been on a night out with friends and had been making her way on her usual route to get a taxi home.

Detective Twiggs described the victim as "doing okay."

He said: "Physically she is fine but mentally and emotionally she is trying to come to terms with the incident.

"She is quite angry with herself for allowing this to happen but it's wrong that she should feel that way. It's not her fault."

Prior to his attack, he can be seen prowling around the city centre and in the car park of the Malmaison hotel.

 Detective Twiggs said: "The first time we see him is at 4:40am - we have been unable to trace him any earlier in the night than that.

"He is then seen hanging around the car park of the Malmaison hotel. We don't know why he was there.

"He walks confidently and with purpose around the city and from this we believe that he has knowledge of the area.

"He may be from Leeds or he may have lived in Leeds previously."

 Detective Twiggs added: "There is nothing to suggest that he is not from the UK but we are keeping an open mind."

Following the incident the victim called for an ambulance which then met her a short distance away from where the attack had happened.

Police are now appealing for a second woman who the man can be seen to try to put his arm around at 4:45am on Swinegate.

At the same time the CCTV shows a taxi pulling up and a man walking past and police are asking for those people to identify themselves.

Detective Twiggs said: "We are releasing this fresh appeal now because it has taken us this long to gather all the CCTV together and form this picture.

"Unfortunately no other lines of enquiry have come forward so we have decided to release this footage and launch this fresh appeal.

"We believe this is an isolated incident but one incident is one too many and we do believe him to be a dangerous man.

"We have a DNA profile of the man but he doesn't match anything on the DNA database so if anyone has any information I would urge them to come forward."

The incident in Birmingham happened at 4am on October 19 last year.

 A 25-year-old woman was unconscious through drink and her attacker, a tall black man, picked her up and carried her across a road before raping her.

The police were called after members of the public found her in a distressed state.

Detective Constable Danette Calvey, of West Midlands Police, said: "There will undoubtedly be people who will watch these images and wrongly judge the woman.

"It must be remembered that this woman has been attacked and that she has displayed remarkable courage by allowing us to release the footage.

"She hopes that these new images may jog someone's memory and that their call may make the difference to her attacker being caught or left to roam the streets."

The force only released the footage from the Birmingham incident in August.

The two incidents are not being links but both forces have been in contact with each other after the Telegraph alerted them to the similarities in the attacks.

West Yorkshire Police said: "At this stage we are not linking the offences, the officers investigating the Birmingham assault are in contact with police in Leeds."

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police added: "At the moment there is nothing to suggest there is a link but if new information comes to light then we will look at it but not at the moment."

Anyone with information should contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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