Neighbours fear for children as police hunt attack suspect

Police presence in woodland off Stockheath Road in Leigh Park after a young woman was attacked
Police presence in woodland off Stockheath Road in Leigh Park after a young woman was attacked
Police outside student accommodation in Stanhope Road, Portsmouth on Friday Picture Ben Fishwick

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WORRIED parents have spoken of their shock after a terrifying sexual assault on a teenager.

On Wednesday evening a 17-year-old girl was attacked as she walked through an area of woodland in Leigh Park, Havant.

The assault took place between Battens Way, Stockheath Way, and Petersfield Road as the teenager made her way home from a friend’s house.

As the police stepped up their patrols in the area last night, neighbours urged them to do everything they could to catch whoever is responsible.

Donna Jervis, 36, of Battens Way, Leigh Park, has three children including 16- and 14-year-old girls.

She said: ‘It’s awful; I feel like our children aren’t safe.

‘They won’t be walking through there after this. It’s horrible to think it happened so close to our home. We shouldn’t have to live in fear.

‘We know all our neighbours and it is normally very quiet around here. I just hope they catch whoever did it soon.’

After the assault the attacker – who was white and dressed in dark clothes – walked off towards Battens Way between 10pm and 10.45pm, while his victim called police on her mobile phone.

A resident of Battens Way – who has six young daughters but did not want to be identified – said the incident had left him afraid for their safety.

‘This makes me want to never let my girls go out,’ he said. ‘They have got to catch this person soon.

‘A lot of youngsters live in this area, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare.’

Charmine Clark, 21, of Stockheath Road, said following the attack she was worried about leaving her house after dark.

‘It is so dangerous to walk somewhere like that alone at night,’ she said.

The suspect is white, 6ft tall, of medium build, aged 20 to 30 years old, had a local accent and was wearing black tracksuit bottoms and a black jacket with a hood.

Detective Inspector Dave Sackman said: ‘This incident has obviously left the victim very shaken, but she has been able to give officers this description of her attacker today.

‘Several potential witnesses have already come forward and I would appeal for anyone else who was in the area near the time of the offence or who recognises the description of the man to contact us.

‘Any piece of information may be critical to our inquiry.’

Anyone with information should call 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.