Officers search wasteland after suspected sex attack

Police use poles to aid them during a meticulous fingertip search of the long grass at John's Place

Police use poles to aid them during a meticulous fingertip search of the long grass at John's Place

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POLICE are investigating a suspected sexual assault after a woman was attacked while walking through Leith Links yesterday morning.

Forensic teams, dog handlers and around a dozen officers could be seen sweeping for evidence along an area of waste ground at John’s Place, less than 100 yards from Leith police station.

It is understood the victim has not yet been interviewed by police, who have appealed for witnesses to come forward.

Police say the woman raised the alarm herself and was not taken to hospital.

The crime scene, known locally as the “old tennis courts”, was cordoned off while police carried out a fingertip search around the area.

A police spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police are currently carrying out inquiries in the Leith Links area of Edinburgh following a report of an assault on a woman in the early hours of Thursday, September 1.

“Inquiries are at an early stage and anyone who remembers seeing anything suspicious in the area is asked to come forward to police.”

Emma Carter, 29, an office worker whose building overlooks the Links, said the crime scene had been a hive of police activity.

“I didn’t notice it at first but my colleagues saw a lot of police around when they arrived at around 9am and I think they had been there from pretty early on.

“Forensic teams with men in white suits came on the scene quite quickly afterwards and were there for a good wee while poking around and looking at the ground.

“By 2pm there was a huge amount of police there. There must have been 12 of them with around seven in a line searching the area using sticks to search in the long grass.”

She added: “I always felt quite safe in this area because I work here but after hearing reports about what might have happened I now feel a sense of unease.”

Linda Tarbuck, chair of Leith Links Residents Association, said the local community would be “shocked and upset” by news of the suspected attack.

“We have problems with that part of the Links in terms of some of the people that use it,” she said.

“It’s not an area with a particularly high crime rate although it is not uncommon for street workers to be there, and there can be some drug use and drinking.”

The alleged attack at Leith Links occurred two days before the park plays host to the Edinburgh Mela Festival, dubbed Scotland’s largest intercultural event.

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com