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Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Net closes on 'Batman rapist'
Police reconstruction of the Bath and Bristol rapist who has attacked at least 17 women
The rapist often targets women in their cars
By West of England correspondent Jane O'Brien

Police have staged a reconstruction of the latest rape attempt on a woman in Bath, in a fresh appeal for information.

The attack happened at 2240BST on Friday in the north of the city.

The woman was in her car with her seven-year-old daughter when a man tried to force open the door. She managed to lock herself in, sound the horn and the man ran off.

But the face to face confrontation has given police the best description yet of the rapist who's believed to have struck up to 17 times in the Bath and Bristol area.

Distinctive blue eyes

Apart from his typical black clothing and baseball cap, his intended victim noticed a scar below his bottom lip and distinctive blue eyes.

The attacker is known as the Batman Rapist because of the logo on the cap he wears
A baseball cap similar to that worn by the rapist

Known locally as the Batman Rapist because of the logo on his baseball cap, he is also slim, about 5ft 9ins tall and clean shaven.

Detective Inspector Paul James of Avon and Somerset Police says he has an extremely good knowledge of the area.

"We're looking for a man who's determined and not afraid to be quite brazen at times. For instance, he has committed offences one after the other on the same night.

"He presents a real danger and we need to catch him. But we need the public's help to catch him."

Long hunt

This is Britain's longest-running serial rape investigation. The first assault happened in 1991. In most attacks the man targeted woman in their cars, often driving them to a secluded area to be raped, then bringing them back to where he found them.

Some have been forced to wear tights and were blindfolded with a hairband.

A national appeal for information earlier this year prompted hundreds of calls and several other victims came foward.

Not all of those attacks have been confirmed and police want the women who contacted them anonymously to call again.

This latest attempt to abduct a woman is the first reported assault in 15 months.

Detectives believe that the time delay itself may be a clue to the man's identity.

He may have been involved in a recently ended relationship, or lives or works away from the area, returning only sporadically when he strikes again.

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