A MANHUNT involving police from across Scotland is under way after a terrified jogger was raped in a “horrific attack”.
The 32-year-old was grabbed from behind then punched in the face during the assault close to Armadale Stadium on Tuesday night.
She staggered home and was taken to hospital by her husband before police were called, prompting a major hunt for her attacker.
“She passed a number of dog walkers on her way home who will have seen her visibly upset,” said DS Pat Campbell.
“This is a priority for us right now to get hold of this individual quickly,” he added. “He must’ve left that area by some route and we don’t know how.”
The victim was running along a footpath which runs parallel to the A801 near to the racetrack when her ordeal began around 9pm.
Popular with joggers and dog walkers, the path leads around a man-made pond close to a housing estate.
“She knows the area well, uses it regularly to jog and felt safe there,” said DS Campbell.
After being grabbed from behind, the victim was punched in the face so hard she was knocked to the ground before being raped. She was left “absolutely traumatised”, said DS Campbell, and suffered bruising to her face, back and shoulder.
It was unclear whether her attacker was lying in wait or whether it was an opportunist attack.
“Why was he there at that time – he had no dog with him? Why was he there at 9pm when it’s still light and dusk is just appearing?” asked DS Campbell.
The suspect is described as white, aged 35-40, about 6ft tall, with dark hair and speaking in a Scottish accent. He was wearing dark denim jeans, a dark top and, possibly, trainers.
“We’re appealing for anyone in that area, around that time to come forward. It might be something irrelevant to them but we can make that decision,” added DS Campbell.
Detectives have pulled in teams from across Scotland and set up a unit near the scene, with officers trawling CCTV and going door-to-door.
DS Campbell said: “This has been an absolutely terrifying ordeal for the victim and we are continuing to provide her with all the necessary support and assistance she requires while we progress this investigation to identify the male responsible.
“We are extremely eager to hear from anyone who remembers seeing any suspicious activity on the footpath or around the racetrack.”
West Lothian commander Chief Inspector Barry Blair said: “Horrific crimes such as this remain rare within West Lothian. Nevertheless, we recognise the significant impact they can have on the community and local officers will be supporting the investigation by conducting high-visibility patrols in and around the area where the attack took place.
“Rest assured we are utilising all resources at our disposal to bring the suspect to justice and I would reiterate the appeal for those who believe they can assist with our inquiries to get in touch.”
Anyone with information can contact Police Scotland on 101 or the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.