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21 February 2014, 16:50 | Updated: 21 February 2014, 16:53
Officers from the Bedfordshire Major Crime Unit are renewing their appeal this week for information from the public a year after a serious sexual assault happened in Dunstable.
Detectives continuing to investigate the assault are urging other women who may have information regarding similar incidents but who were unable to speak to the police last year, or anyone who may have noticed someone they know acting suspiciously or may have seen a partner using a Star’tex brand of condom, to speak with officers now.
An artist’s impression of the offender, CCTV of a man who was seen in the Tomlinson Avenue area at around the time of the offence, CCTV of the offender getting in to the victim’s car, a picture of a phone similar to that taken from the victim during the assault, and information relating to a condom, which was found in the victim’s car, are all being re-released at the anniversary of the incident – it is hoped that by re-releasing this information it may encourage more people to come forward with information and help reassure anyone that does want to speak to the police that they can do so confidentially.
The incident happened on Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 6.55pm, when the victim, who is in her late 20s, was leaving the Shell Petrol Station in Poynters Road, Dunstable. As she was driving off the forecourt a man opened the passenger door of her dark grey 4x4 vehicle and got in.
The man produced a knife and forced the victim to drive to Tomlinson Avenue, arriving a few minutes after 7pm. An assault of a serious sexual nature then took place at knifepoint. The attack lasted approximately fifteen minutes, during which time the victim sounded her car horn, and managed to switch on the internal light.
Despite being petrified during the assault, the victim fought back. She sustained injuries to her head and hands.
Detective Inspector Ruth Dodsworth together with a team of detectives from the BCH Major Crime Team continue to follow all leads received in connection with this investigation but are urging others who may have information that can help the inquiry to contact them.
The condom (pictured), which had been left unopened by the offender in the victim’s car, - a Star’tex brand - is unusual because it is not sold in the UK and after investigators made enquiries with its manufacturer it was confirmed that the batch this condom was from had been sold in Belgium from December 2012.
Detective Inspector Ruth Dodsworth of the MCU, said: "I cannot underestimate what a terrifying experience this was for the victim to deal with yet she continues to show extreme bravery. Although this incident happened a year ago the officers investigating this offence are still committed to finding who was responsible for this assault and I would urge anyone who has further information to come forward and help in this inquiry.
It is possible that when this investigation began other women with information relating to similar incidents were unable to speak to the police, they may have noticed someone they know acting suspiciously or they may have seen a partner using the same Star’tex brand of condom and had not made a connection to this incident. I hope that by re-releasing this information at the anniversary of the incident it may encourage more people to come forward with information and help reassure anyone that does want to speak to the police that what they say will be treated confidentially."
The offender is described as being a white man with an olive complexion who spoke with a foreign accent, possibly Italian. He was around five feet ten inches to six feet tall and of slim to medium build with short stubble on his face. He was wearing dark trousers which had a logo on them or fluorescent markings (these markings were different on each leg), and short zips at the bottom on the outside. He was also wearing a dark hooded jacket with the hood up and pulled tight round his face and ankle height boots.
Anyone with information relating to this incident can contact officers from the MCU, in confidence, on 01707 355959, or Bedfordshire Police on 101, or text information to 07786 200011.
Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111