Police investigating the alleged attack of a 90-year-old woman have defended their public appeal after fast-tracked test results revealed there is no forensic evidence she was raped.
On Wednesday, Greater Manchester Police issued an appeal for information over the alleged incident, during which the woman said she had been dragged off Spotland Road in Rochdale and attacked at about 6.45pm on Tuesday while on her way to a local shop.
Officers said the pensioner had been through a “horrific ordeal” and the community would no doubt share the police’s “revulsion” at the nature of the alleged crime.
Tests were then fast-tracked overnight by detectives working on the investigation and results showed that at this stage there is no forensic evidence to corroborate that an attack of a sexual nature took place.
Specially-trained officers are continuing to work with the pensioner and offer her support and police are investigating the full circumstances of the incident.
The force said it is continuing to appeal to anyone who may have seen the woman in order to determine exactly what occurred.
Superintendent Alistair Mallen, of Greater Manchester police, said on Thursday: "The lady in question stated she had been raped and she gave the same account when she was video interviewed.
"As people would expect we carried out forensic tests and these were fast-tracked overnight. The results now show that there is no forensic evidence of a rape taking place.
"Something has clearly happened to this lady so we would like to hear from anyone who saw anything.
"It is important to state that was a report made in good faith, by an elderly, vulnerable lady and, as such, people would always expect us to investigate thoroughly.
"When we receive a report of this nature we will always investigate to establish the full facts and, alongside this, we will do everything we can to support the victim.
"People may question why we took the decision to go public and, to that, I can say that we had a duty of care to both the complainant and to the wider public. When making these decisions we have to weigh up the need to inform the public with the need to reassure them that they are not in any danger.
"Every case is considered on its individual merits at that particular time and, in this case, it was felt the community needed to be made aware.
"The most important aspect to remember is that we will always investigate reports of sexual offences and we always encourage victims to speak to the police.”