Identikit image of Grafton's 'Night Predator'.
Identikit image of Grafton's 'Night Predator'.

Noose is tightening

DETECTIVES investigating a string of night-time assaults in Grafton have denied rumours they are close to an arrest, despite a number of new leads.

On Friday, detectives from Strike Force Noreen were seen dusting a telephone box on Oliver Street for fingerprints.

Word circulating in the area is that a home on that street was broken into late on Wednesday.

It is believed the intruder then went down the road and used a phone box to call the house he had broken into.

Sex Crimes Squad commander Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec would not confirm the incident, except to say that police were investigating 'an incident where a telephone call was received'.

“Due to the nature of this matter, we will not be commenting on the investigation itself,” he added.

However, a nearby resident has come forward to say she saw a man fitting the predator's description using the phone box on Wednesday night.

The teenager said she became curious after hearing the man repeatedly putting coins into the phone - presumably because he didn't know how to work it.

The racket he made caused her to look out the window to see who it was.

She described the man in the phone box as tall and skinny, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and baggy jeans. She could not see his face because he had his back to her and the hood on his sweatshirt was over his head.

If the incident is the work of the man known as the 'night predator', it will be his fifth attack in 15 months.

His other attacks have all involved young girls, with two primary-school-age girls sexually assaulted at their Prince Street home in November and a five-year-old girl sexually assaulted at her Dobie Street home a year ago.

Three months earlier, a man twice broke into a Pound Street home and entered the bedroom of two girls, while an attack in Queen Street last week resulted in the suspected assault of a seven-year-old girl.

Despite intense public interest in the investigation, detectives are releasing little, saying information will be circulated to the public only when it is appropriate to do so.

“It is apparent that there are rumours and innuendo circulating within the community around Grafton,” Supt Kerlatec said.

“Members of the community should have confidence that where information can be released by the police it will be.

“We also want the community to understand that the investigation must take priority for reasons such as operational effectiveness, the security of investigation process and victim care issues.

“These factors may prevent the release of certain information by police.”

Police are still seeking information about the man portrayed in an identikit released last month. That man has been described by police as tall and skinny with a freckled complexion.

However, Detective Sergeant Nigel Warren of the State Crime Command said on Friday they were interested to hear about all suspicious activity, regardless of whether the person resembled the man in the identikit.

Any person with information they believe could assist the investigation is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333  000 or visit Grafton Police Station.

All information will be treated confidentially and can be made anonymously.

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