A woman who was grabbed from behind and dragged into a laneway by a man in Melbourne’s inner north says she fears what her attacker might do to other women if he is not caught.
- Police have released CCTV footage of a man they want to speak to over the assault
- Separate footage showed the man following a second woman that same morning
- Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers
Brunswick woman April, who did not give her last name, was heading home from a night out in the CBD on Tuesday when a man started following her.
April got off the Route 6 tram at a stop in Lygon Street and bought food from a service station at the intersection of Glenlyon Road.
She began walking down a nearby street when she became aware of a man following her shortly after 12:40am on Wednesday.
April said she was “moments from home” when she was grabbed.
“The first thing I was aware of was two arms around me, with my arms trapped at my side, and he tried dragging me into an alley,” she said.
“Luckily for me, he wasn’t a particularly strong person so I was able to get away.
“But I think if it had been a smaller woman or if he had been a larger man it would have been a different story.”
She said her initial thought was it was a friend playing a nasty prank.
“But when he started to try and pull me I went into autopilot and started screaming. I didn’t have time to think maybe he’s got a knife, I just needed to get out of the situation as quickly as possible.
“I think he realised he wasn’t going to get what he wanted, so that’s when he jumped on his bike.”
The man headed south along Lygon Street past Brunswick Road on his bicycle and was last seen heading east along the bike path.
Sexual crime squad Detective Inspector Juliann Goldrick said police wanted to speak to a man who had been recorded on CCTV.
The footage shows a man about 170cm tall and with a thin build pushing a bicycle along Lygon Street.
At the time of the incident, he was wearing a blue and grey zip-up hoodie, light coloured pants and a bike helmet.
“It appears he’s been around the area for a while,” Inspector Goldrick said.
Second woman may have been assaulted
Police also came across separate CCTV footage of the same man following another woman shortly before assaulting April.
The other woman was also on the Route 6 tram and got off at the intersection of Lygon and Albert streets near the East Brunswick Hotel.
The footage shows she was the only woman to get off the tram at that stop.
The man followed the woman with his bike along Albert Street for a short distance, but Inspector Goldrick said it was not clear if the woman knew she was being followed of if the two interacted.
She said police were calling on the woman to come forward.
April said she came forward because “no-one should feel unsafe when they’re walking home”.
“I was like thousands of woman around Australia walking home after a night out and this man thought he had the right to grab me and he thought that was his privilege and that’s not right,” she said.
“I want this kind of thing to be challenged and recognised as the problem that it is, particularly in Brunswick and north Melbourne where it’s happened a few times with much worse outcomes.
“We don’t know what this guy could do in the future, he could do the same thing and it could be a worse outcome for someone else.”
Anyone who recognises the man, remembers seeing him in the area on the night or has dashcam footage should contact Crime Stoppers.