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Police revisit scene of alleged sexual assaults

Detectives investigating two reports of serious sexual assaults will be in Bournemouth gardens overnight to seek witnesses.

Police are stepping up their appeal and will be speaking with people using the Lower Gardens overnight exactly a week after the second offence.

The first incident happened at around 3.50am on Monday 13 July 2015 as an 18-year-old woman was walking through Bournemouth Lower Gardens – between the balloon and the exit close to Debenhams – when she was approached and sexually assaulted by a man.

The alleged offender is described as white, aged in his early to mid-20s, six feet tall and of a muscular build. He had short spiky brown or black hair and was wearing a dark blue plain T-shirt and dark jeans. He spoke with a local accent.

The second incident happened at around 2am on Tuesday 21 July 2015. It is alleged that an 18-year-old local woman, was confronted by a man in the Lower Gardens and raped. After the incident, the woman walked into the Square and alerted a passing member of the public.

The alleged offender is said to be white, approximately 25 years old, six feet tall, clean shaven and with short dark hair. He has a big nose and spoke with a local accent. He was wearing a blue round neck T-shirt, dark blue jeans and white trainers.

Neither victim knew the suspect. Both are being supported by specially-trained officers.

Officers will be in the gardens from around 2am to 4am in the early hours of Tuesday morning (28 July). They will be standing by prominent witness appeal boards next to the entrances at Gervis Place and Pier Approach.

They hope to speak to people who are in the area at the same time on Mondays each week – such as night workers, bus drivers coming off duty or nightclub-goers – to see if they remember seeing anything unusual.

Detective Chief Inspector Stewart Balmer, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation team, said: “Officers will be speaking to members of the public overnight in Bournemouth gardens to see if anyone may have further information about either incident.

“We do believe both these incidents are linked and we are appealing for the public’s help as any information they may have, no matter how small, could help solve these cases.

“People should be able to enjoy the town at any time and no one deserves to be subjected to this kind of ordeal. We are doing all we can to investigate the offences and identify anyone responsible.

“We would like to remind residents and visitors – as we do throughout the year – to be conscious of their own personal safety whenever they are out and about in town.

“If you don’t feel comfortable in a particular area, take another route. If someone’s behaviour makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts and report anything suspicious to us. Always let someone know where you are, stick with friends and carry a mobile phone.”

A 30-year-old Bournemouth man arrested in connection with both incidents was released on Friday 24 July 2015 on police bail pending further enquires. Despite this, detectives have confirmed they are still very keen to hear if anyone recognises the descriptions or saw something suspicious at the time of the offences.

Witnesses and anyone with information should call Dorset Police in confidence on 101 quoting incident number 21:25. Alternatively, call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.

Issued: 27 July 2015