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25 February 2013, 16:18 | Updated: 26 February 2013, 17:21
Detectives from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit are appealing for witnesses to come forward after receiving a report of a serious assault on Thursday
The incident began at 6.55pm when the victim who is in her late 20s was leaving the Shell Petrol Station in Poynters Road, Dunstable, and 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 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.
The victim was then able to drive away from the scene of the assault and made her way to her family home where she contacted the police.
The offender is described as being a white male, around five feet ten inches to six feet tall and of slim to medium build. He was wearing dark trousers which possibly had logo on them or fluorescent markings, and short zips at the bottom on the outsides. He was also wearing a dark hooded jacket with the hood up and pulled tight round his face.
The officer in charge of this investigation, Detective Inspector Ruth Dodsworth of the MCU, is advising motorists to ensure their car doors are locked when they are sitting in their vehicles and is keen to trace anyone who saw the man in or near the Shell Petrol Station in Poynters Road or saw the dark grey 4x4 vehicle parked in Tomlinson Avenue.
DI Dodsworth said: “This was a terrifying experience for this lady to have to deal with yet she showed extreme bravery in fighting off her attacker and raising the alarm. The victim has been left truly devastated by what happened but has been courageous enough to share with officers exactly what happened during this ordeal and she continues to receive support from her family and specialist officers at this time. We have spoken with another woman who we have confirmed was approached by this same man two minutes before this incident, she had her car door locked so he was unable to gain entry to her vehicle. I would urge anyone who may have also been approached by a man matching the description to contact the police immediately. I would also like to take this opportunity to appeal to anyone who was in the area around the petrol station in Poynters Road to get in touch - In particular, were you the jogger who ran past the Shell petrol station at 6.52pm? You could have information vital to this investigation. Likewise, I’d like to hear from anyone who saw the dark grey 4x4 vehicle parked in Tomlinson Avenue to also make contact with the police as soon as possible.”
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.