Detectives have launched a triple manhunt after a 17-year-old girl making her way home after a night out was sexually assaulted three times in one hour.
The teenager was attacked between 11.55pm on Friday 29 September and 12.55am Saturday 30 September after she became separated from her friends following a visit to a Tower Hamlets nightclub.
She was trying to get home in central London when she was attacked separately in quick succession by three suspects, the last of whom police believe was part of a small group.
CCTV footage and still images of two of the suspects have been retrieved from different cameras that officers used to track the victim’s movements around the streets at the time of the attack.
The victim’s ordeal started shortly before midnight when she was first picked up on camera being carried by a man (suspect 1) on Cambridge Heath Road. The quality of the CCTV is too poor for release but detectives say it showed the pair 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 2).
These images show the man is wearing a baseball cap backwards which has a square/rectangular emblem front centre, a hooded zip jacket worn open, which is two-toned in colour with the shoulders and upper back area being darker, exposing a plain T-shirt underneath.
He has dark trousers and a bag on his back.
Officers have established from studying the complete section of this footage that this man on a bike follows the teenager along Mint Street and as she turns right into Three Colts Lane and heads in the direction of Bethnal Green Overground Station.
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 directs the victim into the set just back from the street where they remain for a period of time. The camera then shows suspect 2 leaving this location and walking away. The girl, whose clothing appears dishevelled, emerges shortly afterwards and goes further down Corfield Street.
Just minutes later, around 12:45am, detectives believe that the victim suffered a third attack, this final time possibly involving two or three men. The CCTV captures a third, different man (suspect 3) walking down Cornfield Street and joining two other figures seen in the distance in outline shadow 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.
This same male is then seen at about 12:55am coming back up Cornfield Street on his own, walking towards the CCTV camera. The clip 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 Cornfield Street in a state of distress and immediately rang 999. Officers arrived shortly afterwards and took her for examination and specialist support.
Officers from the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command have already conducted public witness appeals and now are urgently seeking help from any members of the public who can identify either man in the footage or have any other information.
They also believe it is possible that the victim was drugged and are conducting toxicology tests.
Detective Inspector Suzanne Jordan said: “This is a horrific multiple sexual assault on an 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 enquiries.”
Anyone with information should contact the CASO team investigating on 020 8733 5999 or via the Met on 101 or via twitter at @MetCC.