POLICE have urged women to be extra vigilant after a 20-year-old was sexually assaulted in Durham City last night.

The victim was walking alone on Quarryheads Lane, toward the roundabout at the junction of Potters Bank, at about 6.45pm.

She became aware of a man walking in the opposite direction, who was following three unknown females.

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He then changed direction and began to follow her as she made her way through a gate toward Prebends Bridge.

The man approached her and made some comments, before subjecting her to a sexual assault.

Detective Inspector Traci McNally, of Durham CID, who is heading the investigation, said: “I would like to appeal for the three females in the area of Quarryheads Lane at approximately 6pm to 7pm last night to come forward and provide us with any information to help with this inquiry.

“I would also like to appeal to anybody in the area at this time who may have seen the man to come forward.

“He is described as being about 25-years-old, 5ft 7in tall, with broad shoulders and chubby build, and is cross-eyed. His speech was slurred."

DI McNally said the suspect was wearing a grey top with the hood pulled up. It would have been unusual to be wearing the top, even if the hood was down, because it was a warm evening, she added.

DI McNally said: “This young lady is understandably shocked and distressed by what has happened.

“While I would like to reassure the public that this is an isolated incident, I would also encourage females who are walking in the area in the evening to be extra vigilant.

“We don’t want to scaremonger, obviously, but it is sensible to suggest people are more vigilant when they are out and about.

“Police will be stepping up patrols in and around the area and there is a team of trained investigators dedicated to tracing the male responsible.”

Anyone with information should contact Durham Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800555111 quoting reference DHM-21052014-0424.