Key evidence found in sex attacker hunt

Forensics officers at the scene in Balerno. Picture: Jon Savage

Forensics officers at the scene in Balerno. Picture: Jon Savage

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DETECTIVES investigating a serious sexual assault in a quiet city suburb have uncovered “significant forensic evidence” in their hunt for the suspect.

Today marks a week since the 19-year-old woman was threatened in Newmills Road, Balerno, and dragged into a field before being subjected to a terrifying assault at around 12.30am.

The incident is believed to be linked to an earlier attack in Craiglockhart, but the suspect – described as a man in his 20s, 6ft tall with long dark hair – is still at large.

Detectives from the inquiry team joined uniformed officers at the scene last night in a bid to gather vital evidence.

They stopped cars and buses in the area and conducted additional door-to-door visits in the quiet residential area.

Police have reported a “good response” from members of the public, however others are now being urged to come forward.

Detective Inspector Grant Johnston said: “I would appeal for anybody who was in the area at around 12.30am last Thursday, or late on Wednesday evening, who saw anyone matching the description, to get in touch.”

The victim was walking home after getting off a bus, following a shift in the city centre.

DI Johnston said she was trying to “get over the incident” as best she could, with the support of her family and specially-trained officers.

He added: “Clearly this was a very distressing incident for the young woman and we are eager to trace the suspect as soon as possible.”

Officers have been trawling CCTV footage from Lothian Buses on the 44 route, council street cameras and home security systems, while also boosting patrols in the area.

“We have nothing so far from CCTV but there is a huge amount of CCTV,” DI Johnston said. “We have significant forensic evidence.”

While several people have come forward since the Balerno incident was reported, there have been limited witnesses in touch about the Craiglockhart attack since the incidents were linked last week.

In the earlier incident on August 5, a 21-year-old woman was assaulted at the junction of Craiglockhart Road and Craiglockhart Quadrant at around 10.30pm.

The suspect was last seen running back along Craiglockhart Road, past the junction for Craiglockhart Park, where he was lost to sight.

DI Johnston said: “We have got two linked attacks. They have both been extremely distressing attacks for the two women involved. I’m keen that we catch the person as soon as possible, and hopefully we can do that with the public’s help.”

He said that further attacks could not be ruled out as the suspect was still at large.

The suspect is described as a tall white man with a slim build and long dark hair. He was wearing a grey hoodie and dark jeans and is believed to have a “well-spoken” Edinburgh or English accent.

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com