Teenager charged with series of sex attacks on women on footpaths in Manchester and Cheshire

Joshua Etchells, 19, faces 12 counts of sexual assault by touching

Peter Stubley
Sunday 14 March 2021 17:57
Three attacks took place on the Bridgewater Canal towpath in Sale, Greater Manchester
Three attacks took place on the Bridgewater Canal towpath in Sale, Greater Manchester

Police investigating a series of sex attacks on women walking on footpaths in Manchester and Cheshire have charged a 19-year-old man.

Joshua Etchells is accused of 12 counts of sexual assault by touching in relation to the incidents between 1 and 7 March.

In each case a man on a bicycle approached the victim from behind before touching them inappropriately as he rode past.

Mr Etchells, of Lowton Road, Sale, is in custody and will appear before Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court on Monday 15 March.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) had set up a dedicated operation, codenamed “Carbon”, to investigate similar reports of sexual assaults centred on canal and river towpaths.

Three took place on the Bridgewater Canal in Sale, at 6pm on 2 March, at 6.20pm on 3 March and 9.20am on 6 March.

They were followed by three attacks on 6 March, including at 4.50pm on Bridgwater Way, Old Trafford, at 6.20pm on Little Ees Lane in Sale, and at 6.45pm on a towpath near the River Mersey.

A seventh attack took place at 10.42am on 7 March on Bridgewater Canal, Timperley.

The GMP also worked with Cheshire Police, which received reports of three incidents involving a cyclist on the Trans Pennine Trail in Lymm between 6 and 7 March.

Police said that while nobody was injured, the incidents left the women “understandably distressed”.

A 28-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault has been released with no further action.