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Published: 12:00, 18 August 2014 |
Updated: 12:48, 18 August 2014
A man has been arrested by police investigating a string of alleged sex assaults on women in Whitstable.
The 46-year-old, from the town, was held by detectives looking into reports of seven attacks on women in the town over the course of eight months.
Police are investigating links between the alleged assaults - which include one on an 88-year-old woman and range from indecent exposure to sexual assault.
The man was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and has been bailed to September 30 pending further inquiries.
The force today urged members of the public to remain vigilant and take personal safety measures as the investigation continues.
The first three alleged offences took place on the evening of January 27 - within 45 minutes of each other.
In the first, between 6.25pm and 6.45pm, a man was seen walking down Grimshill Road near the junction with Gosselin Street.
He was seen indecently exposing himself by two girls - who turned and walked in the opposite direction.
But the man followed - grabbing one of the girls by the neck from behind, pushing her into a hedge and punching her in the head. She had a minor injury, but did not need hospital treatment.
Then, at 6pm, a woman reported a man touching her inappropriately over her clothing as she walked with her daughter along the Crab and Winkle Line.
Finally, a 42-year-old woman reported being pushed off her bike in Stream Walk, Whitstable, between 6.30pm and 6.35pm, causing bruisng to her arm and shoulder.
Then, on Saturday, June 14, a 26-year-old woman was walking along the Crab and Winkle Line when a man walked up to her and punched her in the face.
"While we continue to investigate, members of the public should stay vigilant and stick to main routes and thoroughfares..." - Det Insp Max Davidson
She fell back into some bushes and the suspect continued to hit her, before running off through a graveyard.
Then last Tuesday, police were told of three more alleged attacks.
At 1.40pm, an 88-year-old woman was approached from behind when she was walking through an alleyway that joins Cromwell and Acton Roads.
She claimed she was touched inappropriately, with the man also trying to take her handbag. He then ran off.
Later, at 3.15pm, a woman was cycling along the Crab and Winkle Line, opposite the cemetery, when a man is said to have grabbed her inappropriately from behind.
Just half an hour later a woman reported a similar attack along the Crab and Winkle Way towards a supermarket.
An efit has been released of the suspect - described as a white man, aged 40 to 50, stocky and with a shaven head.
He is believed to have been wearing a dark or grey hooded top and has a tribal or Celtic-style tattoo around the base of the right hand thumb.
Det Insp Max Davidson, who is co-ordinating the investigation, said: "There has been an increased police presence in Whitstable this weekend in which officers have been providing reassurance as well as carrying out enquiries as we continue to investigate this series of incidents.
"We remain open-minded in our approach to determining whether the seven reports are linked and have arrested a man who has since been bailed.
"I would urge anyone with information, or those that might recognise the man in an e-fit police released last week, to still contact us as soon as possible. Also, while we continue to investigate, members of the public should stay vigilant and stick to main routes and thoroughfares.
"Taking very simple personal safety measures is really important, such as sticking to well-lit and busy areas and avoid where possible travelling on your own at night. Stay alert to your surroundings and let others know where you are going and when you are likely to be home."
Anyone with information is asked to phone Det Insp Max Davidson on 01227 868235 or Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
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