Serious sexual attack on student investigated by police

Police were called to Heslington Lane last night after a 19-year-old student was subjected to a serious sexual attack.

The attack happened between 8.30 and 8.45pm when the student was walking from Heslington towards Fulford. It is believed to have taken place near the bus stop opposite Fulford Golf Club.

The area is currently under forensic examination by police officers.

The victim was pulled into the bushes and threatened by the man, before being sexually assaulted. She fought against the attacker and managed to break free and run to a friend’s house in Heslington. She suffered scratches to the face as well as being traumatised by the incident.

Police describe the attacker as “white, between 5ft 10in and 6ft tall, quite heavily built with short dark hair, aged between 30 and 40 with a broad Yorkshire accent. He was wearing blue jeans, a dark coloured zip-up hoodie and white trainers.”

The police are interested in any information available, particularly from students who will have been using the adjacent sports fields at the time. Anybody with any information should contact York CID on 08456 060247.

A statement from Halifax College regarding the attack says, “Students and staff are reminded to look after their personal safety and try always to walk in groups. Be aware of your surroundings (don’t wear headphones), and carry a personal alarm which are free on request from the Student Union.”


  1. Apparently police have retracted the report and are no longer looking for witnesses.

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  2. Regardless of whether the accusation was true, it is a major concern when students are walking home alone from campus to Halifax. I still think that it’s insane that the lighting along that route is a bit lousy – it’s the biggest college, after all! More really should be done :-\

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  3. Jason, although you’ve got a point, you’ve linked this to a completely separate issue. This is not on the way to Halifax, the woman was not going to Halifax. This was on the main road from Heslington to Fulford, near the golf club. And in any case, the woman has now retracted the complaint, so there is clearly more (or less, in a sense) to this than meets the eye.

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  4. Thanks Pete, and I’m aware. However it is in the vicinity, i.e. within fifty meters, of the route people need to take to get to Halifax… and, indeed, the way that some Halifax students might take to get home from York itself.

    Sorry if my comment was confusing. I just meant this as a broad statement highlighting that the area between uni and halifax wasn’t necessarily completely safe.

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  5. I think the comments on this wall are getting somewhat hysterical. Obviously- it needn’t be stated- rape is one of the most abhorrent crimes one can commit against another human. I have my own views on the punishment for convicted rapists, but let’s leave that aside for the minute.

    I think people are concerned on a number of levels. If a girl was raped and retracted her statement, why are the police saying, “no sexual assault was committed”? Retracting a statement and charges is one thing. Having HM police force stating categorically to students and residents of York that this did not happen is quite another and would to me, suggest that this story is not quite as it seemed at first.

    The second point is that if, God forbid, this did happen and the victim has decided not to press charges, then there is still a ‘rapist’ on the loose in York. This is the key point, as far as I see things. There is a duty of the police to protect people and in a sense we deserve to know in the clearest possible terms if extra precautions need to be taken (girls walk in large groups/with boys) to ensure the safety of girls around the York area.

    I happen to think we should take the word of the police. They HAVE categorically stated “that the sexual assault did not take place and the investigation has now been closed”. For me, this suggests beyond all doubt that something has gone on that we don’t know about. So, instead of scare-mongering saying “she was pressured into retracting” and “The statement is black and white, but is it the whole truth?”, we should take the police for their word that the assault did not take place.

    Of course, rape is a heinous crime and there are obviously times when a victim is afraid of losing face, embarrassment etc as a result of reporting and following through with the case. In this instance however, I think there is firm evidence to suggest that this is not the case.

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  6. 6 Feb ’09 at 9:41 pm

    Daniel Wheelwright

    its getting dangerous around here these days!

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  7. Personal alarms are also available from the nightline flat in goodricke

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