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Canal sex attacker still on loose

PUBLISHED: 12:53 26 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:26 07 September 2010

A sex attacker who assaulted a schoolgirl next to the Regent s Canal in St John s Wood is still on the loose. The man approached the 15-year-old when she was on her lunch break and walking on the towpath near Prince Albert Road. He forced her to engage in

A sex attacker who assaulted a schoolgirl next to the Regent's Canal in St John's Wood is still on the loose.

The man approached the 15-year-old when she was on her lunch break and walking on the towpath near Prince Albert Road.

He forced her to engage in sexual activity with him under a bridge but let her go after a mother pushing a pram approached at about 2pm on September 9.

Police hope to find the woman who disturbed the attacker as they believe she could help them solve the case.

As news of the incident spread throughout the area, local people have expressed their concern.

Kirsty Short, 21, from Regent's Park, said: "It's absolutely shocking. I run along the path two or three times a week and I've always thought that, as long as I leave before it gets dark, I'll be safe.

"I know the stretch further down towards Camden has a reputation for drug dealing. But I would have thought up here, right next to the park, would be safer - especially at lunchtime.

"For something like this to happen in broad daylight to a schoolgirl is horrible. It makes me think twice about coming down here alone."

Police are issuing renewed appeals for information about the attacker.

He is described as a white man, aged about 50, balding and overweight. He was wearing a grey or navy blue tracksuit and spoke with an English accent.

Stephanie Grant, from Chalk Farm, also walking alone along the canal towpath, said: "I'm very shocked because I would have thought it would be safe at that time of day.

"I certainly wouldn't walk down here at night. But at 2pm you don't expect that kind of thing to happen.

"It would make me more wary of coming down here - especially if there was no-one else around."

Sara Taipe, 35, from St John's Wood, said: "When my sister and a friend were visiting from Peru they were followed down the canal by a man and they ran to the road to get away from him.

"I walk along here most afternoons and there are usually a lot of kids hanging around on there bikes under the bridge smoking. It can be intimidating."

She added that walking along the canal was a short-cut for her and had become a habit.

A police spokesman said: "All lines of enquiry are being pursued, including forensic evidence."

Anyone with information should contact Det Con Karl Lewis on 020-7321 9332 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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