A rapist who attacked a schoolgirl in a Blackpool park threatened to ‘kill her’ if she did not co-operate.
The 15-year-old girl had been walking home along Claremont Road when she approached a man in the street.
Investigating detectives told The Gazette the teenager had initially been happy to chat to the stranger and when it was suggested they should spend time walking through Claremont Park she agreed.
But while in the park the man grabbed the youngster just 50 yards from nearby homes and forced her towards some goalposts, where he carried out the sickening attack.
Det Chief Insp Andy Gilbert (pictured), of Lancashire Police, said: “The offender threatened the victim and told her he would kill her.”
Last night, a 22-year-old Blackpool man was arrested on suspicion of rape.
Det Chief Insp Gilbert added: “The offender wasn’t known to the victim.
“The victim had been walking home from a friend’s house when stopped to talk to a man.
“We believe they have then spent sometime walking around the park before the attack took place.
“After the attack the victim was so terrified of him she convinced him to walk her to a friend’s house close by.
“When they got there she banged on the door and when it was opened she ran inside and slammed the door behind her.
“He then walked off.
“The incident was reported to us the following day.”
The attack happened between 8.45pm and 11.30pm on Friday.
Officers are currently trawling CCTV footage in the area and are exploring forensic opportunities.
Det Chf Insp Gilbert believes the attacker’s accent maybe the key to finding him as it is not thought to be local.
He said: “The few people who have spoken to this man say his accent is not a local one.
“I am confident that someone in the Claremont community knows who is responsible for this.
“I can not say for definite where he is staying but I am sure he must be living or staying with a relative in the Claremont area.
“I urge anyone with information to come forward and contact police.”
The victim is now being supported by her family and specially trained officers.
Anybody with information is urged to call Blackpool Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
• Police have confirmed a 22-year-old Blackpool man has been arrested on suspicion of rape.
He was held in custody and was today set to be interviewed by detectives.
Residents speak out about park
Claremont residents have spoken of their shock at hearing of the attack and are now demanding more lighting in the area.
Julie Patience, 50, of Warley Road, said: “There should be more light at least in the park. A lot of people, like us, walk their dogs around here and at night it’s not good; it’s really black. It’s been this way for the last 10 years, but to hear what’s happened is horrible. It’s just dreadful.”
Her mother, Shirley Patience, 76, also of Warley Road, added: “It’s dangerous around here at night because it’s so dark. At least when we’re walking the dogs there are two of us together but it really is pitch black, you can’t see the path.”
People living close to the park now say they are worried about their children’s safety.
Liam Graham, 48, Claremont Road said: “My wife was talking about it last night after she’d heard about what happened. “We’re telling our kids not to walk around here on their own after what happened – we have two girls aged nine and 14. It’s shocking news, I hope they catch whoever’s done this.”
Clare Johnson, 38, Claremont Road added: “It’s obviously very worrying. I have a 14-year-old son who walks home from school and I’ve warned him to be extra vigilant and to come straight home. I know it was a girl who was attacked but you don’t know what sick people are out there.”
A mother of six, said hearing the news made her feel sick. She said: “I can’t bear to think about a 15-year-old girl being raped around here. You should be able to walk outside without having to watch your own back.”
Kevin Crabb, 28, only moved into his house on Claremont Road three weeks ago.
He said: “I’m shocked. It’s horrible to think about what’s happened just over the road. I am a grown guy and I wouldn’t go across to the park on my own.”