DETECTIVES are on the hunt for a man who is alleged to have abducted and raped a woman in her 30s — in an attack so brutal it left her in hospital.
The attack in Carlton, Melbourne on Sunday comes just days after the nearby rape and death of Eurydice Dixon.
Detectives have not ruled out the possibility multiple men were involved in Sunday’s rape and the force has released images of potential witnesses they would like to speak to.
Police say two women in their 30s caught a taxi from Melbourne’s CBD to Lygon Street, Carlton shortly after 4am on Sunday.
The pair got out at the intersection with Gratton Street and one of the women went into a convenience store to grab a late night snack.
The victim remained on the opposite corner and the pair subsequently became separated.
Police believe the woman was picked up and taken into a vehicle around 4.30am before she was sexually assaulted in an unknown location.
She arrived at her northern suburbs home about 5.30am and police were contacted shortly after.
Detectives believe a group of men who stopped to talk before she was taken in a car and raped could hold the key to solving the disturbing crime.
The officer in charge of the Sexual Crimes Squad, Detective Inspector Steve Wilson, said investigators were still piecing together the victim’s movements through the morning.
“We’re keen to speak to anyone who saw anything suspicious or unusual in the area around Lygon and Grattan Streets around 4.30am,” he said.
“There were still a number of people around at that time so we’re hopeful someone will have information that can assist with our investigation.
“It’s enormously concerning whenever someone is sexually assaulted, however I understand that this will be particularly worrying for people who live around that area given recent events.”
CCTV footage shows three men in a silver Ute stop their car and talk to the victim, who was on the footpath near the intersection, with police considering the theory they were stopping to check on her welfare.
Footage shows another man walking nearby before leaving the area.
The men in the ute get back in the car and head north, and the other man walks away down the footpath.
Detectives are now trying to figure out what happened next.
The victim cannot remember exact details of the attack or whose car she was in, but there was sufficient evidence to suggest the rape was severe.
The rape and death of Eurydice Dixon sent shockwaves through Australia this week — prompting Victoria’s Women’s Affairs Minister to claim Australian women are now enduring a “gendered violence crisis”.
30 women have been murdered in Australia so far in 2018 alone.
Undercover and visible police are now patrolling the suburbs around the University of Melbourne and Princes Park in relation to Sunday’s attack and Insp Wilson said police officers are doing everything in their to bring the perpetrator to justice.
“I want to reassure the community that we are doing absolutely everything we can to identify those responsible for this matter,” he said.
“Sexual Crimes Squad detectives are also liaising closely with local police.
“People have the right to go out at night and enjoy themselves in our city — for a young woman’s night to end this way is absolutely unacceptable.
“Again, I’d urge anyone with any information at all to come forward and speak to police, as even the smallest detail could prove crucial.”
Following public outcry on the inclusion of safety messages in the wake of last week’s murder, police today took the opportunity to deliver messages to the men responsible for sex attacks.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ben Graham