Lancaster nightclub rape: Fresh witness appeal three weeks on

The Sugarhouse.
The Sugarhouse.

The detective leading the investigation into a rape in a Lancaster nightclub has issued a fresh appeal for information three weeks on.

And DCI Andy Gilbert revealed that officers could not be certain that only students were inside the Sugarhouse at around 12.30am on Tuesday, October 1.

Previously, it was thought only students were present in the city centre venue during a Freshers event for new arrivals to Lancaster University.

Other students were allowed in later on but police now say ‘the wider public’ may have had access.

A team of detectives is continuing to investigate the shocking rape of an 18-year-old woman, just days after she arrived from Greater Manchester to study.

She was confronted by a man as she left a toilet cubicle, pushed back inside it and raped.

The woman managed to fend off her attacker before running from the toilets to raise the alarm. DCI Gilbert said: “I have a dedicated team of detectives working on this case as we continue to try and find the person responsible.

“This would have been a very busy evening and was just one of the Fresher’s events being held that week.

“It was open to County, Longsdale and Graduate students but I cannot guarantee that the wider public did not have access to the Sugarhouse so my appeal goes out to anyone who was out that night.

“I want people to reflect on who they were out with that night - was there anyone in the group who fits the description of the person we need to trace?

“The offence was committed between 12.30am and 12.45am – did anyone in your group leave you at that time and say they were going to the toilet? “Did anyone matching the description leave the venue suddenly? Do you know of anyone who had sex in the club that night or have you heard anyone bragging?

“If anyone can help with these questions or who has any information I’d appeal with them to contact us.”

Officers are still keen for a man captured on CCTV and heading towards the ladies’ toilets to come forward along with other potential witnesses, including a woman who seems to be coming out of the ladies’ toilets.

“We are also still keen to speak with a second year female student who is believed to be studying law at Lancaster University and possibly spoke with the victim in the ladies’ toilets around the time of the incident. If this was you please come forward.

“There were around 1,400 people in the club that night and once again I would like to reiterate our appeal to speak to any women who remember a man walking into the ladies’ toilets, or who saw a man in there, or who heard any shouting.

“If any men were in the ladies’ toilets for any reason we would also like them to come forward so we can speak to them and eliminate them from our inquiries.

“We are continuing to support the young woman who has suffered a particularly distressing ordeal and once again I would like to reassure people that sexual assaults of this nature are rare.”

The rape victim described her attacker as a white man, about 6ft tall with blond hair and aged 18 to 30 years old.

He was wearing a light-coloured, short-sleeved top with no collar, but he may also have been wearing a long sleeved shirt or jacket and darker trousers.

Anybody with any information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting log number 0028 of October 1, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.