A DOG walker was ambushed in an alleyway by a “big nosed” attacker who sprang out from the shadows after laying a large tree branch in her path.
The 47-year-old woman was grabbed from behind as she bent down to remove the obstacle, causing her to fall to the ground, but managed to lash out with a dog lead and force the man to flee.
Police are not ruling out a sexual motive for the attack which took place in Muirhouse just before 11pm on Sunday and have stepped up patrols in the area.
The woman was left “shaken” by the ambush in which the man is thought to have sustained a cut to his face.
Officers have launched door-to-door inquiries following the assault which took place in an alleyway between Muirhouse Place East and Muirhouse Place West.
Detective Constable Richard Johnston said the attacker did not speak during the assault or attempt to rob the victim, leading to fears there may have been a sexual motive.
“The suspect hasn’t said anything. He’s attacked her from behind, she was completely unaware,” said DC Johnston.
“He pulled her to the ground by grabbing her hood, but even once they were on the ground he did not say anything. That was when she lashed out with the dog lead and he has run off.
“The worrying thing is not knowing [the motive], whereas usually you get a demand for a wallet or something else. But there is no reason here at all. It is strange and concerning.”
The victim, who lives locally, had walked along a path to a grassy area before letting her dog off the lead on Sunday.
She had only been outside for 15 minutes before heading back along the dark pathway to find a branch blocking her path that had not been there before.
It was then that the attacker struck.
He is described as being white, around 6ft 3in tall, slim, with short brown hair and a large nose. He was wearing a black jacket and grey jogging bottoms with a stripe on the outside of the leg.
DC Johnston said the attacker’s height and big nose was a “fairly unique” description.
“While it’s unclear what the motive of the suspect was, we are not ruling out the attack was sexually motivated,” he said. “The male was hit with the dog lead and so there’s a possibility he has an injury or a cut to the face.”
Officers are hopeful that other dog walkers or residents may have seen the man or the victim around the time of the incident. It is not known how long he was in the area before the woman was assaulted.
Roy Douglas, chairman of Muirhouse/Salvesen Community Council, offered his sympathies to the victim and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
“We condemn these types of incidents,” he said. “We do hope the lady in question recovers from the ordeal. We would urge people who witnessed such an offence to contact the police and help the investigation.”