‘It isn’t safe at night’ – residents’ shock after second rape in Sunderland Park

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DETECTIVES are today hunting a man who subjected two teenage girls to terrifying sex assaults in a Sunderland park.

The attacker sexually assaulted the 15-year-old before raping her 16-year-old friend, in Mowbray Park on Monday evening.

The area near the ornamental bridge in Mowbray Park which has been sealed off as a crime scene.

The area near the ornamental bridge in Mowbray Park which has been sealed off as a crime scene.

Police yesterday taped off a small footbridge next to the pond that the Museum and Winter Gardens building overlooks, which is where the attack is said to have taken place.

Those living nearby today told of their shock at the attack, which comes less than three months after a woman was raped in broad daylight in the same park on September 22.

A man is set to appear in court later this month charged with the September rape.

Speaking about the attack on the teenagers, one married couple who regularly use the park to walk in said they were “sickened”.

The area near the ornamental bridge in Mowbray Park which has been sealed off as a crime scene.

The area near the ornamental bridge in Mowbray Park which has been sealed off as a crime scene.

“It’s a shocking and disgusting thing to happen to two young girls,” said the woman, 70, who lives near the park with her 72-year-old husband.

“I come through here almost every morning but I wouldn’t come near the place at night.”

One woman who walks through the park with her children said the incident didn’t come as a shock.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” she said. “There are people here drinking when it gets dark. We only come here in the daylight because it isn’t safe at night.”

Northumbria Police say they are now sifting through CCTV footage in the area. Extra officers are also patrolling in the area to reassure the public.

Detectives are appealing for witnesses - specifically anyone who saw anything suspicious in or around Mowbray Park just before 7pm on Monday - in particular a man in company with two girls.

Superintendent Ged Noble, of Sunderland Area Command, said: “These are extremely serious allegations and we’re doing everything possible to piece together what has happened and establish the circumstances.

“We understand incidents such as this cause concern in the community and I’d like to reassure people we’re doing everything possible to trace this man.

“Obviously this is extremely distressing for the two teenage girls and specialist officers are providing the support they need at this time.

“Extra patrols are taking place in the area and residents should speak with local officers if they have any information or concerns.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference 1047 08/12/14, or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

• Craig Watson, 26, of Hendon, has been charged with the rape on September 22. He will appear at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court on December 23.