A REWARD of £3,000 has been offered to help track down the man who raped an 11-year-old girl as she walked home from school.
Crimestoppers has put forward the financial incentive for information which leads to the man’s arrest and conviction.
The young girl was attacked as she walked along Balcombe Road, in Pound Hill, at a busy time of day in broad daylight.
Her attacker grabbed her and dragged her into a secluded footpath – between Blackwater Lane and Balcombe Road – where he pushed her into bushes and raped her.
The shocking attack happened on or around September 22, although the exact date is uncertain as the child was so traumatised she only found the courage to report it recently.
She first told a member of staff at her school and the attack was then immediately reported to Sussex Police.
John Wright, chairman of Crawley Neighbourhood Watch, is urging parents to make sure their children do not walk alone wherever possible.
He said: “We always say to children, and adults as well, that they shouldn’t be walking alone.
“Go home with a friend. Always be in pairs at the least and be vigilant.
“It was truly horrific what happened to that poor girl.
“The area immediately around that footpath is built up with homes and Balcombe Road is a major road so someone must have heard or seen something.
“There must be a driver, a cyclist, pedestrian or resident who noticed something out of the ordinary that day.
“They need to come forward. No matter how insignificant it seems, that information could be the last piece of the jigsaw needed to catch this man.”
Forensic investigators have scoured the area searching for DNA clues to help identify the attacker.
Officers have also carried out house-to-house inquiries.
The girl and her family are now being supported by specially trained officers.
An e-fit of the suspect has been put together, with the help of the victim.
He is described as being aged about 40, with ginger and grey hair, and gingery stubble. He was wearing a black fleece, a beanie hat and a knee-length, khaki-coloured coat.
Angela Hollinshead, Crimestoppers’ regional manager for Surrey and Sussex, said: “This man needs to be caught as soon as possible.
“We need to be sure that no other child falls victims to such an horrific attack. Our phone line and anonymous online form are accessible 24 hours a day.”
To qualify for the reward of up to £3,000, information must be passed to the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers.
Although the attack occurred in the daytime, Pound Hill South and Worth borough councillor Bob Lanzer said this week that money could be found to ensure that the footpath where the attack happened is better lit, given how secluded it is.