Ian Collins is Leading Britain's Conversation.
13 October 2017, 13:59
Police are on the hunt for a number of suspects after a teenage girl was sexually assaulted on three separate occasions in the space of one hour.
The 17-year-old was making her way home from a night out in east London last month when she was attacked by up to five suspects, the Met Police said.
All three attacks happened within 60 minutes in the Tower Hamlets area, starting from about 11:55pm on Friday 29 September until about 12:55am on Saturday 30 September.
Today detectives have released CCTV images of two of the suspects as they step up their hunt to catch the girl’s attackers.
The victim's ordeal started shortly before midnight when she was first picked up on camera being carried by a man, named suspect 1, on Cambridge Heath Road.
The image quality of the CCTV prior to this first incident is said to have been too poor to release, the man can only be described as wearing dark clothing.
The pair are then seen appearing to go into a doorway on the same road, after which the man is not seen again on camera, but items of the top half of the girl's clothing were subsequently found by the location.
Shortly after midnight, another CCTV camera picks up the girl stumbling down Mint Street being followed by a different, bearded male, on a racing bicycle - named suspect 2.
The images show the man wearing a backwards baseball cap, a hooded zip jacket which is two toned in colour with the shoulders and upper back area being darker, exposing a plain tee-shirt underneath. He has dark trousers and a bag on his back.
Officers have established from studying the complete section of this footage that this man on a bike follows the teenager along Mint Street and then as she turns right into Three Colts Lane and heads in the direction of Bethnal Green Overground Station.
When the next camera picks her up a short time later, the man has approached her and they have reached Corfield Street.
The CCTV indicates that he then directs the victim into the set just back from the street where they remain for a period of time.
The camera then shows suspect 2 leaving this location and walking away. The girl, whose clothing appears dishevelled, emerges shortly afterwards and goes further down Corfield Street.
Just minutes later, about 12:45am, officers believe that the victim suffered a third attack, this final time possibly involving two or three men.
The CCTV captures a third, different man, named suspect 3, walking down Cornfield Street and joining two other figures seen in the distance in outline shadow under some trees.
He appears to bend down towards a spot on the kerb in between some parked cars. Detectives believe it is at this point where the victim was sexually assaulted.
This same male is then seen at about 12:55hrs coming back up Cornfield Street on his own, walking towards the CCTV camera.
The clip reveals that the suspect has a distinctive gait, which gives him the appearance of walking unevenly and perhaps being slightly bow-legged.
Following this, a member of the public spotted the teenager lying on the ground in Cornfield Street in a state of distress and immediately rung 999 to alert police. Officers arrived shortly afterwards and took her for examination and specialist support.
Police believe it is possible the victim was drugged and are in the process of conducting toxicology tests.
Anybody with information is asked to call the Met’s special appeal number on 0208 733 5999.