Edinburgh detectives assessing ‘several’ pieces of new information from public after fresh appeal to solve Balerno rape and Craiglockhart sex attack in August 2015

Detectives are are assessing “several” pieces of new information supplied by the public following a fresh appeal to solve a rape and sexual assault carried out against two young women in southwest Edinburgh more than five years ago.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 7:00 am

It recently emerged that new DNA techniques were used to definitely link the two attacks, which happened three weeks apart in August 2015.

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.

It followed a sexual assault on a 21-year-old woman who was grabbed from behind in Craiglockhart Quadrant at about 10.30pm on Wednesday, August 5. She had also just got off a bus, this time in Colinton Road, before walking along Craiglockhart Park and turning into a street where her attacker struck.

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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. This image shows what the area looked like at the time.

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

Police, along with the woman attacked in Craiglockhart, launched an appeal earlier this month for people to cast their minds back and report any concerns they may have had about suspicious behaviour in someone they knew.

Detective Inspector Jon Pleasance said: “Following our renewed appeal after DNA advancements definitively linked these two attacks, we’ve received several pieces of information from the public.

“The inquiry team is currently in the process of assessing these and I want to thank our communities, and the media, for their ongoing support.

“I’d again urge anyone who has concerns over the behaviour of anyone in August, 2015, to contact police or pass information anonymously to Crimestoppers.

“Any information, no matter how small, could be key. We have a full DNA profile of the person responsible and so can quickly, and completely, rule people out.”

NCA assistance

The five year anniversary of the two cases prompted a re-examination of evidence.

Advancements in DNA technology allowed forensic scientists to pick up more biological samples from the evidence, enabling detectives to create a full DNA profile showing the same person is responsible for both attacks.

The UK-wide National Crime Agency’s (NCA) Major Crime Investigative Support team is also assisting police in Edinburgh with their enquiries into the attacks upon these women.

Police have also conducted new door-to-door inquiries and have reviewed CCTV footage in these areas.

DI Pleasance also said previously they have looked for a correlation with all other sexual assault offences throughout the summer of 2015 - but at the moment police believe only these two offences have been perpetrated by the same man.

Officers have also widened the scope of their enquiries to surrounding areas including Fife, the Lothians and Borders.

At the time of the attacks, Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe was taking place and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s theme was East Meets West and marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

DI Pleasance believes they are looking for someone you “might least suspect” is responsible for such horrific offences.

He stressed people should not dismiss any concerns they might have, no matter how small they might seem.

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.

The victim of the Craiglockhart sexual assault told the Edinburgh Evening News previously that it would mean a great deal if someone could come forward with information which could lead to the capture of her attacker.

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.

Anyone with information should 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.

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