Can you help find Sunderland sex attacker?

Police cordon around the subway behind the University Library in Chester Road, under St Michaels Way, Sunderland.

Police cordon around the subway behind the University Library in Chester Road, under St Michaels Way, Sunderland.

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THIS is the man wanted for questioning about a harrowing sex attack in Sunderland.

The victim bravely helped police create the e-fit after the assault in a city centre subway.

An e-f

An e-f

Officers are now appealing for witnesses who may have spotted the man, described as being of Asian appearance and in his late 20s, to come forward.

In the incident, at 4.20am on Wednesday, a 25-year-old woman was sexually assaulted as she walked through an underpass near Sunderland University’s Murray Library.

The attack was almost identical to one on May 19, at about 11pm, when a 22-year-old reported being sexually assaulted.

On both occasions, the victims say a man has pounced on them from behind before carrying out a frightening attack.

The Echo spoke to people using the subway, under St Michael’s Way, yesterday.

Becky Owens, a 19-year-old call-centre worker from Hendon, said: “I don’t think I’d come through here on a night.

“It’s creepy knowing someone could be hanging about down here.”

Jean Raven, a retired shop assistant from Millfield, said the alleged attacks had not put her off walking through.

The 62-year-old said: “I think, ‘try it with me son and I will kill you’.

“I think you should be able to walk round anywhere, but schools should teach a bit of basic self-defence.”

Maren Viol, 24, originally from Germany, is studying tourism and events at the University of Sunderland.

She said: “I didn’t know anything about it, but I’m not worried, as I only walk down here during the day.”

Neighbourhood Inspector Neal Craig, of Northumbria Police, said: “We know when incidents like this happen it raises the fear of crime for people and we’d like to reassure them extra officers will be on patrol to answer any concerns they have.

“We would always urge people to be aware of their own personal safety and not put themselves in situations where they could be vulnerable.

“Look out for friends and always plan how you’re going to get home, especially if it’s late at night.”

It is thought a taxi drove along Chester Road as the suspected attacker ran off, at the time of the attack on Wednesday.

Police would like to speak to the driver, who they believe may have seen the man.

Officers have stepped up patrols in the area and across the city centre in a bid to reassure the public.

Anyone with information is asked to call Northumbria Police on 03456 043 043 extension 69191, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

@janethejourno

* A 27-year-old man arrested on suspicion of two counts of sexual assault has been released on police bail.