Hunt for rapist on run in resort

Gary Wolstenholme, who was jailed for 8 years in 2003 after he was convicted of rape in St Annes
Gary Wolstenholme, who was jailed for 8 years in 2003 after he was convicted of rape in St Annes
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POLICE are hunting a brutal rapist believed to be on the run in Blackpool.

Gary Wolstenholme, 30, was jailed for eight years in 2003 after raping a 33-year-old mother-of-five on a resort beach.

Police search the beach at Starr Gate, South Shore back in 2002 after the rape

Police search the beach at Starr Gate, South Shore back in 2002 after the rape

And police today revealed they are keeping a close eye on the rapist’s victim while he remains at large.

Probation officers discovered Wolstenholme, who had 75 previous convictions, had fled his house in Accrington during a routine visit last Tuesday.

He was released last year but under the terms of his licence, due to expire in 2015, he has to tell the service of a change in address within three days of moving house.

His victim is said to be distraught after discovering he was on the run.

Det Sgt Craig Blackwood, from Lancashire Police, said: “The probation service visited Wolstenholme’s home last Tuesday evening and he was not there.

“He is from Blackpool and has family there, so it’s very likely that’s where he has gone.

“If anybody sees him, they should not approach him, but notify the police immediately.

“The victim, who is very upset, has been notified by the service, and police will remain in contact with her until he is found.

“It is vital the initial victim is kept informed.”

Wolstenholme was living at Stanmore Avenue, South Shore, when he offered to take his victim home from Rumours nightclub after recovering her stolen handbag in July 2002.

But he drove her to Starr Gate, dragged her on to a deserted area of the beach by her hair, threatened her with a brick before carrying out the attack.

Det Sgt Blackwood added: “He is a registered sex offender, and they are subject to robust checks and orders after they are released on licence.

“This includes having to stay at the same address, and notifying us within three days if he has moved.”

Police, who said Wolstenholme is likely to reoffend, are urging women in Blackpool to be extra careful.

Det Insp Stephen Dowson, of Lancashire Police’s Public Protection Unit, added: “I believe he poses a significant risk of harm and would appeal to anyone who knows where he may be to get in touch.”

Anyone with information should contact Lancashire Police on 08451 25 35 45 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.