€10,000 Reward For Thug Who Preys On Women

A €10,000 reward has been offered for the arrest of a serial offender behind vicious beatings of three women in separate night-time attacks.

Gardai are hunting the man who assaulted and violently beat the three women in Athlone, Co Westmeath. A 39-year-old woman was dragged into undergrowth and beaten at the side of a main road by a male attacker shortly before midnight yesterday. The attack is the latest in a series of violent assaults on women out walking on their own in Athlone over the last eight weeks.

All three attacks occurred at the same location at Bonavalley Bridge on the Dublin Road close to the Athlone Institute of Technology in the town.

A €10,000 reward has been put up by the Irish Crimestoppers Trust for information leading to the identification and arrest of the serial attacker.

A photofit picture of the suspect has also been released by gardai.

The victim of the latest attack remains in hospital today following the assault which occurred between 10pm and 11pm on Wednesday. Supt Aidan Glacken of Athlone Garda Station said all three women were “victims of serious and violent assaults” but refused to comment on reports that the women had been sexually assaulted.

“Between 10pm and 11pm a lady walking on her own on the bridge was approached from behind by a male and dragged across the road into undergrowth where she was beaten and assaulted,” said Supt Glacken.

“This is the third such incident in that area involving a woman walking alone over the last number of weeks,” he said. The bridge, where the attacks took place remained sealed off yesterday as gardai carried out technical and forensic examinations at the scene. Gardai believe this latest attack is linked to the two previous attacks on women walking alone at the same location. The first woman was attacked at the Bridge on August 12, between the hours of 3am and 4am.

The woman suffered a violent assault when she was grabbed from behind and dragged into a nearby disused carpark where she was repeatedly beaten by her attacker.

A second woman was attacked six-weeks later on September 23 also on the bridge. This time the woman was set upon by a man and dragged into a ditch but managed to escape without serious injury.

Jean Haron of the Athlone and Midlands Rape Crisis Centre said women in Athlone are frightened.

“We are appalled by these recent acts of violence against women in the town,” said Ms Haron. “Women in Athlone are obviously frightened by what’s happened and we have been in discussion with the gardai on the matter,” said Ms Haron.

The man is described as being tall, with short black hair, and aged between 25 and 30 years.

“We believe he is sallow-skinned, and may have cuts or scratches on his face, arms or hands, given the terrain where the attacks took place,” said Supt Glacken.

“All of these women have suffered a great deal of physical and mental trauma as a result of these violent assaults,” said Supt Glacken who has appealed to the public for their assistance in identifying the attacker.

“We would like to hear from anyone who may have received an unusual approach from a man in the Athlone area over the past six weeks.

“Sometimes people don’t report such approaches, but if anyone has been approached, we would like to hear about it, either directly to us or through another agency,” said Supt Glacken.