Video: Detectives hunt man behind two sexual assaults on Leeds canal towpath

DETECTIVES INVESTIGATING two sexual assaults on women on a canal towpath in Leeds are continuing their hunt for the man responsible. 

A 40-year-old woman was grabbed by a man and dragged to the ground while she was out running on Saturday morning.

The scene of one of the assaults on the canal towpath in Rodley.

The scene of one of the assaults on the canal towpath in Rodley.

The attacker pounced at around 8.20am while was she was on the steps that run from the A6120 Leeds Outer Ring Road to the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Rodley. 

She struggled with him and managed to fight him off before he ran away along the ring road towards Rodley roundabout.

Police today said a man had assaulted another woman and tried to assault a third in the same area shortly before the attack on the 40-year-old.

Detective Inspector Steve Greenbank, of Leeds District CID, said: “These have clearly been very frightening incidents for the women involved and we urgently need to trace this man. 

“We are currently carrying out extensive enquiries in an effort to identify and arrest him at the earliest opportunity.

“We would like to hear from anyone who witnessed any of these incidents or who saw the suspect in the area either around the time of these incidents or at any other time.”

The suspect was described as black, aged in his late teens to early 20s, about 5ft 8in to 5ft 10in, and slim, with a clean shaven and roundish face.

He was wearing a grey lightweight anorak or padded jacket, which had the hood pulled up; grey jogging bottoms, and white trainers. 

It is possible he may have injuries to his face from the struggle with the 40-year-old woman. 

He is believed to have gone down Rodley Lane through a cut-through into Oaklands Grove and onto Oaklands Road before doubling back on to Bagley Lane. 

A short time beforehand, a 48-year-old woman was walking her dog on the towpath in the same area.

She was sexually assaulted by a similarly described man as he walked past her. 

And a 25-year-old woman, who was out running, was also approached by the suspect around the same time.

He put out his hand but she managed to avoid him before approaching a passer-by for help. 

Det Insp Greenbank said: “The canal towpath is a well-used route that is popular with runners and dog-walkers and we fully appreciate the heightened concerns there will be among people in the area. 

“Officers from the local neighbourhood policing team have been mounting increased patrols of the area as part of our efforts to reassure the community and those patrols will be continuing while we progress the investigation.”

While the three incidents in the Rodley area are all being linked, police do not believe they were carried out by the man behind a series of assaults in the city last month.

Det Insp Greenbank said: “We are aware of understandable speculation on social media that these incidents are linked to a series of sexual assaults in Harehills and Burmantofts in early September.

“Two men have been arrested in connection with that investigation and there is nothing at this stage to suggest any link to the offences in Rodley.” 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Leeds District CID via 101, quoting crime number 13160454118.

Information can also be passed on to the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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