UK police have released a CCTV footage of two male suspects in a case of rape of a 14-year-old boy in the toilets of a department store in Manchester city.
According to The Guardian, two men accosted the boy on June 2, while he used a toilet at the busy Arndale shopping center, in Manchester city center, near the entrance of Aldi and Subway. The men grabbed his arm and one of them said: "Come with us, do what we say, and if you try to run we'll get you." The boy said he had noticed the men staring at him before they approached him.
The Guardian reports the boy was frogmarched out of the shopping center and taken to the toilets of the Debenhams department store in Market Street where he was raped. The Daily Mail reports the boy was led by the arm over a distance of about 50 yards. According to a police source, the attack was "absolutely horrendous." The source added: "The attack on a child in a busy department store on a Saturday afternoon will put fear and dread into the heart of every parent. If teenagers are not safe from paedophile predators in the heart of a busy city, then it is extremely worrying."
Police say they have been working to reconstruct the details of the incident since June and obtain forensic evidence. According to the police, the CCTV footage show that one of the suspected men is white and the other is of Asian heritage. Police say the Asian man raped the boy.
The Greater Manchester police say the incident happened around 5.45pm on Saturday, June 2. Detective Sergeant Liam Boden of North Manchester CID, said, "This young victim has been absolutely devastated by what happened to him. What makes this incident doubly shocking is that he was marched across a busy part of the city centre during the late afternoon on Saturday. However, this means I am confident that shoppers may have seen the offenders either before or after the incident. I want people to take a good look at the men in these images and tell me who they are."
Supt Stuart Ellison, of Greater Manchester Police, said; "When you think about a 14-year-old out in the city centre at that time of the evening, when the footfall is pretty heavy and there are a lot of people about, the fact that someone could be marched across the street and into a store in this way is pretty horrific... When I think about family or friends who could have been out in the Arndale at that time of night, it disturbs me greatly."
The BBC reports Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd, questioned why there had been a two-month delay before police released information about the attack. He said: "Everyone knows there are no easy decisions in a case like this but it really does raise important questions about public safety. It does seem that the earlier the public are made aware of the danger and the possible identity of the attackers then the more likely they will be able to prevent future attacks and help the police arrest those involved."
Det Sgt Liam Boden said in response that the CCTV images of the suspects were "circulated immediately after the offence to businesses and neighborhood officers." He said: "In addition, we sent off evidence for forensic analysis, but when that proved negative we took the decision to immediately publicise the images."
A spokesman for Debenhams said the store was shocked to hear about the incident and assured shoppers that the incident is an isolated case. The spokesman said the store is working with the police and appealed to anyone with information to contact them.
The boy was taken to a rape crisis center at St Mary's Hospital where doctors checked him, the Daily Mail reports.
Police urge anyone with information to contact North Manchester CID on 0161 856 3240 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.