Police link sex attack on girl, 4, to earlier assault

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The Independent Online

A sexual assault against a four-year-old girl abducted in Newcastle upon Tyne on Monday resembled the attack on a five-year-old snatched in the city exactly four months earlier, police said yesterday.

A woman detective trained in coaxing information from traumatised victims was with the child and her parents last night as Detective Superintendent Dave Wilson, leading the investigation, drew five parallels between the abductions.

Both children were young girls from the city's west side, abducted in the early evening on the fourth day of the month, he said. Both were abandoned 40 miles away in the same area of Darlington, Co Durham, after enduring similar sexual assaults.

"We are obviously dealing with a very dangerous man," Det Supt Wilson said. "He is selecting his victim before he strikes and, in doing so, may be spending some time in the areas these young girls are from. Someone must have seen him."

Police have two leads to Monday's abduction, which happened when the girl went on a 90-yard walk at about 7.30pm to say good night to her mother's friend in the New Mills area of the city.

"We have a sighting of a young child holding a man's hand in an alleyway [in the area]," Det Supt Wilson said. The man was described as aged in his 40s, clean shaven, with unkempt dark hair. He was wearing dirty flared trousers and a dirty black and white check lumberjack shirt.

Police also want information on a red car, possibly a Vauxhall Chevette, seen in the area.

The girl knocked on a door in Darlington 17 hours later saying: "I can't find my Daddy."

In the incident on 4 May, the five-year-old girl was dragged into a car as she walked with a friend by a shopping precinct in Blakelaw at about 8pm. She was abandoned partly clothed three-and-a-half hours later.

A psychological profile of the Blakelaw attacker was compiled, but police have not sought further advice on the abductor's characteristics.

The girl abducted on Monday suffered no physical injury other than inflicted by the sexual assault.

"She has so far been too distressed to be questioned," Det Supt Wilson said. "The whole experience of being taken away from her family, sexually assaulted, and dumped miles away from her home is a particularly traumatic experience."