Finchley sex assaults: Man arrested over attacks on women

12:21 02 November 2011

A man has been arrested and bailed by police investigating a series of sex assaults on women in north London.

Detectives were already investigating three sexual offences in Finchley when the latest attack happened on October 28 – the fourth in 10 days.

All the assaults have been against lone women in their 20s and 30s in the area of Finchley Central in Barnet.

The first two attacks happened on October 19, at 6.15pm in Elm Park Road and 8pm in Clifton Avenue.

In the Clifton Avenue incident, the victim escaped before any sexual assault took place.

A third attack took place on October 23, at around 10.50pm in Essex Park.

In the latest incident a woman was targeted as she walked in parkland in the Briar House Estate Trust, close to The Avenue, between 12.30 and 12.50pm.

On all occasions the women have been approached by a man from behind who has covered their mouths.

On three occasions the suspect ordered the victims to remain quiet before assaulting them.

On one occasion he threatened harm to the victim.

All of the victims have screamed and resisted the suspect, causing him to run off.

The man is described as having a tanned complexion, likely to be either dark-skinned European/Arabic or light-skinned Asian.

He is believed to be in his mid-30s, 5ft 8ins to 6ft tall, of a slim build and smelling of cigarette smoke. He is described as wearing jeans with black formal-type shoes.

Investigating officer Detective Inspector Caroline Haines said: “Despite these attacks taking place on side streets around Finchley Central and West Finchley Underground stations, we understand that there may be a number of potential eyewitnesses.

“We urge anyone who may have information regarding all four assaults to speak to us, and any other women who may have been attacked in a similar manner, to come forward and speak to our specialist team.

“It is possible that eyewitnesses may not have realised the nature of the assaults in the belief that they were some kind of dispute, which did not need public or police intervention.

“The reality is that these women have gone through a frightening experience, and I urge anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious to come forward and speak to us.”

A man in his 30s was arrested in Finchley on October 28 in connection with the incidents. He has been bailed to return at the end on November pending further inquiries.

Superintendent Neil Seabridge, of Barnet police, said: “I want to reassure our community that we are working very hard and using all resources available to us in order to catch this man.

“We are working hand in hand with specialist departments to ensure all our collective expertise is focused in this investigation.

“Currently police are undertaking additional patrols to protect and reassure you - as always your safety is of the utmost importance.”

Anyone with information should call the incident room on 0208 733 5032 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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