A 17-year-old girl was sexually assaulted three times by different men within an hour following a night out, police have said.
The victim was making her way home after becoming separated from her friends following a night out at a club in Tower Hamlets last month, the Metropolitan police said.
She was attacked three times in quick succession from about 11.55pm (3:25am IST) on Friday September 29 until about 12.55am (4:25am IST) on Saturday September 30 by three different men, the last of whom was part of a small group.
CCTV footage and still images of two of the men – referred to as suspects two and three – have been retrieved from different cameras that the Met team has used to track the victim’s movements around the streets at the time of the attack.
DI Suzanne Jordan, from the Met’s child abuse and sexual offences command, said: “This is a horrific multiple sexual assault on a young female who was simply making her way home after a night out. We would like to thank the members of the public who intervened to help her and possibly prevented her ordeal from continuing even further.”
“We believe two of the three were very serious sexual assaults indeed, and are determined to catch the persons responsible for these hideous crimes. I would urge anyone who recognises either male in these images to contact us as a matter of urgency.
“We’d also like to speak to any witnesses who haven’t already come forward, or anyone with any information at all, however insignificant they believe it might be – it could prove crucial to progressing our inquiries.”
The victim’s ordeal started shortly before midnight when she was first picked up on camera being carried by a man – suspect one – on Cambridge Heath Road.
The pair are then seen appearing to go into a doorway on the same road, after which the man is not seen again on camera, but items of the top half of the girl’s clothing were subsequently found by the location.
Shortly after midnight, another CCTV camera picks up the girl stumbling down Mint Street being followed by a different, bearded male, on a racing bicycle – suspect two.
Images released by police show the man wearing a baseball cap backwards, a hooded zip jacket and a plain T-shirt underneath. He has dark trousers and a bag on his back.
When the next camera picks her up a short time later, the man has approached her and they have reached Corfield Street.
The CCTV indicates that he then directed the victim into an area set back from the street where they remain for a period of time. The camera then shows suspect two leaving this location and walking away. The girl, whose clothing appears dishevelled, emerges shortly afterwards and goes further down Corfield Street.
Minutes later, about 12.45am (4:15am IST), detectives believe the victim suffered a third attack, this time possibly involving two or three men.
CCTV captures suspect three walking down Corfield Street and joining two other figures seen in the distance under some trees. He appears to bend down towards a spot on the kerb in between some parked cars. Detectives believe it is at this point where the victim was sexually assaulted.
The footage reveals that the suspect has a distinctive gait, which gives him the appearance of walking unevenly and perhaps being slightly bow-legged.
Following this, a member of the public spotted the teenager lying on the ground in Corfield Street in a state of distress and immediately rang 999 to alert police. Officers arrived shortly afterwards and took her for examination and specialist support.
Officers believe it is possible that she was drugged and are in the process of conducting toxicology tests.