POLICE were tonight set to quiz revellers who may have spotted a “chubby” rapist in the hours before he carried out a sickening sex attack on a teenage girl.
A team of officers will be in Dalkeith’s town centre this evening to speak to pub-goers who may hold vital clues to catching the suspect.
High-visibility patrols will also be deployed to reassure the public a week after the 18-year-old victim was raped in woodlands off the town’s Lauder Road.
Fears remain high in the community while the rapist remains on the loose, despite police reassurances that such attacks were “rare”. But detectives have urged women to avoid walking home alone at night, instead advising they travel in groups or use taxis.
Police chiefs today renewed their appeal for witnesses who may have seen the man acting suspiciously to come forward.
Officers are investigating whether the teenage girl was followed from the town centre as she walked home in the early hours following a night out with friends and family members. The victim visited a number of pubs in Dalkeith before being pounced upon between midnight and 2am last Sunday and subjected to a “terrifying ordeal”.
Licensed premises will be among the locations visited by officers tonight in the hope of making a breakthrough in the inquiry.
Detective are hoping that revellers who were also in the area last Saturday night might remember seeing the suspect or the victim as she walked home.
A police spokesman said: “High-visibility police patrols will be deployed over the course of this weekend to engage with local residents and other members of the public who may have seen or heard anything suspicious in or around the area last week.
“Anyone with information that can assist with our inquiries into this attack is asked to contact police immediately.”
Officers have spent the week conducting door-to-door inquiries and recovering CCTV from pubs and other businesses in a bid to identify the culprit.
The suspect is described as white, in his early 20s, chubby build, and 5ft 8in tall. He was wearing a grey hooded zip-up top, with the hood up, and dark jeans and spoke with a local accent.
The victim was carrying her shoes and walking barefoot along Lauder Road from the town centre shortly before she was attacked.
Residents living in Kippielaw Walk, whose homes back on the woodlands were the teenager was attacked, said the lane she was dragged into was a popular short-cut with drinkers out in Dalkeith at the weekend.
One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “A lot of people walking home to Mayfield cut through that path. It can get quite noisy, especially on Friday or Saturday nights. If the attack happened there then there’s a good chance someone have seen or heard something.”