A MANHUNT is under way for a shop worker, believed to be from Nelson, who groped a vulnerable woman as he worked in a city store.
The man, who has not been identified, is still being hunted after the incident earlier this year. Police this week launched an appeal to find him, suggesting he may live in the Manchester Road area of Nelson, perhaps in the Farrar Street/Rupert Street area.
The 25-year-old woman, who has not been named, went into the Booze Xpress in Corporation Street, Preston, after a night out with her boyfriend - but was immediately targeted by the man who was working alone. The shop is run by people from Nelson but they were not involved in the incident.
The woman was the only customer in the shop and, as she tried to pay for goods, the shopkeeper kept grabbing her hand and complimented her on her zip-up coat.
CCTV footage shows him moving towards her and unzipping her coat. The woman then alleges he sexually assaulted her. The victim went home and told her mother, who informed police.
The woman’s mother, who lives in Preston, said her daughter has “a very trusting nature and no one is an enemy to her”.
She added: “She is also very resilient but, after the incident, she was very upset and wouldn’t go out on her own and would get colleagues to go for her lunch saying certain people were looking at her and that made her very vulnerable.
“She seems to be her old self again but she has not forgotten what this man did. She hopes he will be caught and brought to justice so he can’t do this to anyone else.”
Det. Sgt John Crichton, of Preston CID, said: “She hasn’t come to any great harm, thankfully, but she is vulnerable. It’s possible he could target another woman wherever he is and it is also possible he is here illegally. He may be from Pakistan.
“There was no reason for his behaviour and he’s preyed on a young woman with difficulties.” He added: “He is believed to be from the Nelson area. The people who run it are from Nelson.
“I would encourage anyone who knows who is or where he is to contact us.”
The incident happened at 10-40 p.m. on January 23rd.
The owners of the shop and its current staff are not involved in the incident. However, the store is under further investigation after detectives probing the sex attack visited the shop and discovered an illegal immigrant working there.
He was detained and has since been handed over to the UK Borders Agency.
Anyone with who recognises the man or can help CID with information can contact Preston police on 01772 203203 or 101.