Girl, under 10, raped in her home as family slept

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The Independent Online

A man broke into a house in the middle of the night and raped a young girl as she lay in bed, police have disclosed. In what detectives described as "every parent's nightmare" the girl, believed to be as young as six, was attacked while her mother and siblings slept nearby.

A man broke into a house in the middle of the night and raped a young girl as she lay in bed, police have disclosed. In what detectives described as "every parent's nightmare" the girl, believed to be as young as six, was attacked while her mother and siblings slept nearby.

Detectives vowed that they would "leave no stone unturned" yesterday in their attempt to catch the rapist. Detective Chief Inspector Tim Wills said: "This is an extremely unusual attack. It is particularly disturbing and whatever resources are needed will be used - the cost of the investigation is irrelevant, we will not rest until this crime is solved."

Essex officers said the child, who they would only identify as being under 10, was woken at her home on a housing estate in Basildon on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning by her attacker. It was not until 8am that her mother learnt of the rape and called police.

Det Ch Insp Wills said: "We are trying to piece together the events. All we can say for sure at the moment is that the girl was in her bedroom in her home when she was attacked. Considering the ordeal she has been through she has had specialist care and is doing as well as can be expected in the circumstances."

While appealing to other parents to remain vigilant and keep their homes locked, officers urged them to remain calm.

"Extra officers will be patrolling and I would want to stress that this is an extremely unusual and rare incident which we are committing large numbers of resources to," said Chief Inspector Graham Carey.

Specially trained officers were interviewing the girl yesterday, as well as three siblings and two other children - all under the age of 10 - who were in the house at the time.

The girl described her assailant as about 18 years old and black, possibly with Afro-style hair. She said he had dirty teeth with one distinctive clean one, was thin and wore a grey top with darker writing, as well as loose-fitting ripped trousers and a belt with a metal loop of chain hanging down one side.

Forty officers have been assigned to the inquiry. Forensic scientists examined materials taken from the home yesterday in the hope that they would reveal the attacker's DNA. The sex offenders' register andCCTV cameras were being checked while police made inquiries across the estate.

Ch Insp Carey said: "It is a horrendous incident for the family and for the victim and it is every parent's nightmare."

Detectives, who said they could find no obvious signs of forced entry, would not give specific details as to whether the girl was sharing a room or had called out during the attack. Gemma Cleary, 34, a local woman who has three children, said: "It makes you sick to the stomach. Her mum must be in pieces that this happened right under her nose."

Another neighbour said: "She's a lovely little girl, about six or seven years old. She's always out playing with the other kids round here. No one can believe what has happened. Where are your kids safe now?"

The girl lives on the rundown Craylands estate, which Tony Blair visited in 2003 to promote a police crackdown on antisocial behaviour.