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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 15:09 GMT
'Dracula' sex attack suspect arrested

The attacker is thought to have struck six times in eight months
A man has been arrested by police hunting a sex attacker who wore a Dracula mask while attacking his victims.

The 51-year-old from Havant was arrested on Tuesday following a mass DNA-screening programme of men living in the local area.

He is being questioned in connection with a series of attacks in the Hayling Island and Portsmouth areas of Hampshire.

Detectives believe six separate assaults - on victims as young as 11 years old - were committed by a single individual.

The first assault which happened on 1 December last year, was on an 11-year-old.

'Terrifying'

She was grabbed as she cycled along the same disused railway line, but managed to struggle free.

In February this year a 44-year-old woman fought free from an attacker in a Halloween mask in Denvilles, Havant.

And just four days later a 51-year-old woman was attacked by a man wearing a Dracula mask and wig with fangs dripping with fake blood, in a subway under the A27 in Emsworth.

The mask, which was later thrown on the floor, was traced to a shop in Bedhampton, less than a mile from where two of the assaults happened.

Detectives described it as "terrifying".

Descriptions 'similar'

Hampshire Police believe the same man then struck on 30 May when he threatened to kill a 13-year-old girl in the churchyard of St Mary's Church on Hayling Island.

In July police issued an appeal based on the victims' descriptions of the attacker, which police said were strikingly similar.

During the same month, a 15-year-old girl was also grabbed from behind while she cycled along a disused railway line on Hayling Island.

The attacker threatened to kill her but she managed to struggle free as he tried to drag her into some bushes.

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