Police hunt for rapist after woman attacked in street

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POLICE were today hunting a rapist who pounced on a woman after she popped out to the shops in her slippers.

The man attacked the 34-year-old as she was on her way back home from buying cigarettes on Leith Walk at around 11pm.

She screamed loudly for help after the suspect lured her down Balfour Street but no-one in the busy area came to her aid during the 15-minute ordeal.

The attacker is believed to have calmly walked away from the scene before the "hysterical" woman was found by a passersby.

Detective Chief Inspector John McKenzie, who is leading the investigation, said: "This has been a very traumatic experience for the woman."

Police are now carrying out door-to-door inquiries in the area in the search for witnesses. They believe anyone who heard the woman's cries may have believed it was a "domestic" argument and ignored her.

Officers are also set to visit nearby pubs to find drinkers who were in the area on Thursday night.

Forensic experts spent yesterday afternoon continuing an examination of the area between two storage units, where the victim was raped.

The woman, who is 5ft 4in and slim, set off to buy cigarettes from the Leith Walk Scotmid store while wearing jeans, a turquoise cardigan and slippers.

On her way back home, the suspect, a muscular man in his 20s, struck up a brief conversation with her as they approached Jameson Place.

The attacker managed to direct his victim down Balfour Street before raping her between the storage units. He was last seen walking east along Leith Walk in the direction of Great Junction Street.

DCI McKenzie added: "There is extensive CCTV coverage in the area and we are working hard to identify the suspect.

"I am aware that he has managed to direct her down this street. I am unaware if there were any threats of violence or other method used.

"Incidents of this kind are rare, and for this reason I would appeal for anyone who was in the area at the time, and who may have seen what happened, to come forward.

"In the meantime, there will be increased police patrols in the area."

The suspect is described as being white, in his 20s, around 5ft 9in, with short spiky blond hair and a high forehead. He was wearing a pair of dark blue or black trousers, with black shoes, and a black zipped top with a red top underneath.

A resident in Balfour Street, who asked not to be named, said: "I heard shouting in the street earlier, but it was just kids. I certainly would've went to help the woman if I heard her.

"I feel so sorry for this lady. It's terrible what has happened."