Crimestoppers offer £5,000 reward to find Balerno and Craiglockhart double sex attacker who struck during Edinburgh Festival nearly 6 years ago

A £5,000 reward is being offered to find the man who carried out a rape and sexual assault against two young women three weeks apart in the southwest of Edinburgh nearly six years ago.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 12:46 pm
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 12:48 pm

A 19-year-old woman was raped after a man claiming to have a knife forced her into a field beside Newmills Road in Balerno, at around 12.20am on Thursday, August 27 in 2015. Shortly before this, she had stepped off a bus in Lanark Road West.

At about 10.30pm on Wednesday, August 5 in 2015, a 21-year-old woman was grabbed from behind and sexually assaulted in Craiglockhart Quadrant. She had also just got off a bus, this time in Colinton Road, before walking along Craiglockhart Park and turning onto the street where her attacker struck.

The man responsible was not on either bus before the attacks.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A forensics officer at the scene in Balerno in 2015.

Earlier this year, it emerged advancements in DNA technology allowed forensic scientists to pick up more biological samples from evidence connected to these two cases, enabling detectives to create a full DNA profile on the person responsible for both.

Crimestoppers is now offering a reward of up to £5,000 for information the charity exclusively receives - through crimestopers-uk.org or by phoning 0800 555 111 - that leads to the arrest and conviction of the man responsible for these attacks. Information passed directly to the police will not qualify.

Angela Parker, Scotland national manager at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “These victims have been through horrific ordeals which no one should ever have to endure. We should all be able to walk around in our community safely during the day or at night without fear, which is why our charity has put up this reward.

“We are appealing to anybody who may have information on this attacker to contact our charity, with the promise that you will remain completely and totally anonymous.

Near the scene of the attack in Balerno.

“We know the police are looking for somebody ‘you’d least expect’ to commit such awful offences. Please cast your mind back to August 2015. Was there somebody in your life, a colleague, a friend or a family member who was acting in an unusual way for them at the time? The Edinburgh Fringe Festival was taking place and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s theme was East Meets West, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

“Everyone who contacts our charity stays 100 percent anonymous. We’ve been supporting people to speak up anonymously since we began in 1988 and have always kept our anonymity guarantee to everyone who trusts us with their crime information.

“People tell us how difficult it can be coming forward, but that our anonymity guarantee gives them the confidence to take action, safe in the knowledge that no one will ever know. You can call our UK Contact Centre which is open 24-hours a day on freephone 0800 555 111 or you can use our simple and secure anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.”

‘Traumatic impact’

The five year anniversary of these attacks in 2020 prompted a re-examination of evidence which led to using new forensic techniques which showed a definitive link between the cases.

No match between the DNA profile and known sex offenders means police have asked the public to think about any unusual or suspicious behaviour of people in their lives around that time - be it a relative, neighbour or friend - so they can try and match the profile with a suspect.

The suspect was described at the time as being a white male, in their 20s or 30s, of slim or athletic build, with slightly longer than average hair between their ears and shoulders.

Detective Inspector Jon Pleasance described the rape in Balerno as a “prolonged and terrifying assault” which undoubtedly had a “traumatic impact” on the victim.

The young woman targeted in the Craiglockhart attack also spoke out in March to encourage anyone to come forward who may have suspicions about someone’s behaviour around the time of the incidents, no matter how small a detail they think it might be.

She stressed that her attack was “not a one off” and that it is in the public interest to find this person to make sure it does not happen again.

The NCA is a UK wide resource which means they can link it to similar investigations across the country, for example observing any similar behaviour of a stranger approaching a female before a sexual assault.

Police have also conducted new door-to-door enquiries and have reviewed CCTV footage in the areas concerned. Officers have also widened the scope of their enquiries to surrounding areas including Fife, the Lothians and Borders.

New DNA techniques

Lead forensic scientist, Amanda Pirie, of the Scottish Police Authority, said previously that DNA 24 technology was used to retest samples taken at the time of the attacks, providing “twice as much information” because it is so sensitive. As the name suggests, it allows experts to study 24 bits of a person’s DNA, compared to ten previously.

She also revealed that ‘crimelite’ technology was used in the review of the cases. This technique uses high intensity LED (light emitting diodes) light of varying wavelengths to reveal DNA traces.

This technology was used to prosecute Angus Sinclair of the World’s End murders which took place in 1977. It revealed that his DNA was on the ligatures used to strangle and tie up Helen Scott and Christine Eadie - and that he had sexual intercourse with them.

Anyone with information about the Balerno and Craiglockhart sex attacks can contact Police Scotland via 101 quoting incident number 0770 of 1 March, 2021, or pass tips anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription at https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/subscriptions.