Sexual assault ‘has sent shockwaves around Dungannon community’

Police at the scene of a serious incident at Peatlands Park, Dungannon.  Photo: Mark Winter / Pacemaker Press
Police at the scene of a serious incident at Peatlands Park, Dungannon. Photo: Mark Winter / Pacemaker Press

Fear has escalated in the Dungannon area after a woman was raped in a park yesterday afternoon.

The woman was walking her dog on an isolated path in Peatlands Park at about 2.45pm when she was assaulted.

A PSNI spokesman said the man who attacked her fled the scene on what has been described as a black mountain bike.

Police have described it as an “appalling attack” and have appealed for anyone with any information to contact them.

DUP MLA Lord Morrow said the assault “has sent shockwaves around Dungannon”.

“Peatlands Park is an extremely popular area for walkers,” he said. “A lot of people use it for morning walks and jogging. It is just immediately off the M1 close to the Loughgall intersection.”

Lord Morrow said the incident has also sent shockwaves “around the whole hinterland because many people use it”.

“You would never go past it but there are people using it and cars lined up near it,” he added.

“People can’t even talk about it because they are saying this has happened right on our doorstep and what is next?

“It has caused a deep shadow across the whole community.”

Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Councillor Darryn Causby strongly condemned the sexual assault.

“This is an appalling attack on this woman,” he said. “Peatlands Park is a very popular spot with walkers, joggers and plenty of families enjoying the play park and pond. What’s even more shocking is that this attack took place in broad daylight  People should feel safe and secure when out enjoying themselves.  

“I would appeal for people to vigilant and for anyone who knows anything to contact the PSNI with any information or the crime stoppers helpline. This is something that we don’t want to see again. There’s no room for this violent crime in our society.”

Detective Inspector Lynne Knox said police are pursuing all investigative lines of inquiry and I would appeal to anyone who may have witnessed this assault or observed anything suspicious to contact detectives at the rape crime unit on the non-emergency number 101.

Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Peatlands Park is managed by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

A DOE spokesman said: “Staff from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency provided assistance to the PSNI following a report of an incident at Peatlands Park on 27 April 2016. NIEA will continue to provide co-operation with the PSNI in their investigation. In over 30 years of managing the Country Park this is the first such incident. Our thoughts are with the lady concerned and her family. We would urge anyone with information to contact the PSNI”.