Police renew appeals over sex attacker

Published: Thursday 26th May 11

Detectives in Wandsworth are appealing to south London's Asian communities for help in catching a serial sex offender who's been linked to three serious attacks on women in the area.

CCTV imagesThe officers leading the hunt for the attacker are renewing their appeals for information amid concerns he may strike again.

His attacks took place in Wandsworth, Tooting and Mitcham between August 2007 and May 2010.

So far an exhaustive and detailed investigation by a team of experienced detectives has failed to establish the man's identity. A witness appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch programme in December 2010 also failed to generate any significant new leads.  

Officers are concerned that the attacker, who is of Asian descent - possibly with a Sri Lankan/Tamil background - may be being shielded and protected within his community and that local people will know his identity but until now have been unwilling to come forward.

The officer leading the investigation Det Chief Insp John Oldham said: "It is vital that we trace this offender and bring him to justice. He has committed at least three very serious sexual assaults, including rape, but there could be many more that have not yet been reported to us.

"We are appealing again to south London's Asian communities to come forward and help us find this man.

"We have a full and complete DNA profile so there is absolutely no chance of an innocent man being prosecuted for these attacks. Anyone who is innocent has nothing to fear as they will be eliminated from this investigation immediately.

"Unfortunately we have not had all the help I would have hoped for from the public. I am aware that some people within recently arrived communities may have misgivings about speaking to the police. Some may have fled persecution from the authorities in their own countries. Others may feel deep shame or embarrassment that someone they know from their community could be responsible for such crimes.

"However it is vital that they come forward and assist us. This attacker is a dangerous individual who has shown that he is prepared to commit the most heinous of crimes against women. I would say to the south Asian community in this part of London to bear in mind that if he remains at large then next time it could be a daughter, sister or mother from your family or community who is his next victim."

The man is described as being very dark skinned and aged between 30 and 35 years of age. He is around five feet nine inches tall, of medium build with a slightly podgy belly and wavy dark hair. He has noticeably prominent peaks to his lips under his nose and is said to be well groomed.

He spoke English with a strong Asian accent. He is a smoker and walks with a slight limp which is emphasised when he runs into an unbalanced shambolic gait.

The first attack took place in Routh Road near Wandsworth Common at around midnight on August 9, 2007.  He approached his victim and asked for a light, before dragging her into the entrance of a nearby garage where he removed her clothing and raped her.

Events that day from around the world that may jog memories among south Asian communities include an attack on controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen during a book launch in India; Pakistan's Supreme Court reinstated the country's chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and India's cricket team posted a score of 316 for four on the first day of the final test against England at the Oval.

The second attack occurred in Turner Avenue, Mitcham, at around 11.45pm on January 23, 2009. The victim was returning home after a night out with friends when she was approached by a man who asked if she had a lighter. He then forced her to the floor and assaulted her before she managed to struggle free and he ran off.

On that same day, the editor of the Sri Lankan newspaper Rivira was attacked in Colombo along with his wife. Four men on motorcyles attacked Upali Tennakoon's car with iron rods and other weapons. The attack came two weeks after the killing of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramatunga. Also on this day Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire finally opened in India.

The third attack took place in Ashbourne Road in Tooting at around 3.30am on May 16 last year. The suspect approached his victim and told her he wanted sex and would pay for it. Before she had a chance to say anything, the man forced her to the floor and indecently assaulted her. When she screamed loudly he ran off.

Wandsworth's community safety spokesman Cllr James Cousins said: "I would echo the calls for anyone with information about these crimes to come forward and contact the police. It is vital that this attacker is apprehended so that no more women suffer at his hands."

To contact the investigation team call (020) 8785 8244.

Alternatively people can call Crimestoppers and pass on information anonymously by calling 0800 555 111. Anyone who provides information that helps the police solve these could be eligible for a cash reward.

For more details or to fill in an anonymous online information form visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org .

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