Search for builders in rape hunt

POLICE want to speak to builders recently working in the quiet area of Chantry where a masked man forced his way into the home of a woman in broad daylight and raped her.

POLICE want to speak to builders recently working in the quiet area of Chantry where a masked man forced his way into the home of a woman in broad daylight and raped her.

Construction workers may hold the key to the brutal attack in the Pelican Close area of the estate.

So far police calls for witnesses have provoked a "limited response".

Leading the investigation, Detective Inspector John Quinton said: "We are aware there was extensive construction work going on in the area and we will be talking to the builders as part of the ongoing investigation."

A gate – usually locked – close to the victim's home had been left unlocked by builders which might have provided the rapist's means of escape.

Police have also issued a description of the attacker who forced his way into her home after she opened the door.

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He is a white male, of medium build and was wearing a dark sweatshirt top and dark-coloured jogging bottoms. He was also wearing a dark balaclava.

Det Insp Quinton said: "The victim, while still deeply traumatised by this attack, is helping us build a picture of the offender.

"So far, our appeal for information has resulted in a small number of calls from the public offering information.

"I am pleased with the general response so far but am convinced there are more people out there who may have seen something of importance.

"There would have been a lot of people about at this time and I would like to repeat my appeal for anyone who saw a man acting suspiciously in the area between 12 noon and 2pm on Friday (May 24) to come forward."

Police are today continuing with their house-to-house enquiries in the area.

A police incident pod has been set up at the end of Pelican Close near to the home of the 20-year-old victim.

And officers were due to visit nearby Chantry school today to ask pupils if they saw anyone suspicious in the area at lunchtime last Friday .

Resident Ann Scrocca said: "We have a lot of door to door people calling on us. People trying to sell gas and electric, and a lot of Jehovah's witnesses. There has been a lot of building work going on in the area."

Like other shocked residents in the quiet cul de sac, Mrs Scrocca is being extra vigilant.

She said: "I am going to make sure the security lock is always on. It's a terrible thing to have happened. The police have interviewed me and asked if I remember seeing anyone suspicious in the area.

Her husband, Ben, echoed her fears.

He said: "I am going to make sure she doesn't go out on her own in the close. I will make sure I am with her when she walks the dog."

Neighbour Maud Jennings said: "I am going to keep my lock on from now on and not open the door to anyone."

Police believe the rapist, who raped his victim wearing a Balaclava, may have escaped via communal gardens at the back of the victim's home.

The next-door neighbour of the victim admitted one of the back gates would have been unlocked during the time of the attack.

The 37-year-old said: "It's usually locked but I'm having work done to my windows at the back so it is unlocked at the moment."

Another Close resident Beverly Lusher, 28, thought she saw a maroon Vauxhall that she didn't recognise in the area.

She said: "It really scares me to think that could happen here. I have a young baby and my partner has told me to be extra careful. The houses here can be very exposed. I am going to be more vigilant, especially when hanging out washing."

One woman who asked not to be named but has lived in Bittern Close for 20 years said: "Nothing like this has happened before. It is terrible. If they tried to come after me I would beat them off with a stick."

While a forensics team dressed in sterile white suits combed the 20-year-old's home, pairs of officers made door to door enquiries.

Scene of crime officers also videoed the close while a photographer took pictures.

Robert Balaam of Pelican Close said: "Police asked me if I had seen anyone in dark clothing on the close. I'm sure but I think they said his hair was blond."

Housebound Noel Mackiness, 85, said: "It's an absolutely terrible thing to have happened.

"I spend a lot of time looking at the comings and goings on the close but I'm sorry to say I didn't see anything."

Most of the residents in both closes are elderly, though an increasing number of young people have moved into the area in recent years.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Suffolk Police on 01473 613500 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.