Female driver raped after stopping to investigate empty child car seat in layby

A woman driver was raped after she stopped to check if a child was safe after spotting an empty car seat in a layby.

Saturday, 21st August 2021, 4:17 pm
Updated Saturday, 21st August 2021, 4:18 pm
Police incident

Thames Valley Police said she was raped in a layby on the A4 in Thatcham, Berkshire, opposite the junction with Cox's Lane, in an attack late on August 16.

The force, whose officers were called at around midnight that evening, said they are now investigating whether the empty car seat was used to the lure the victim who had been driving on the A4 before she was attacked.

Investigating officer Detective Inspector Alice Broad, who described it as "a concerning incident and one that has understandably caused anxiety in the local community," said: "She stopped her vehicle at the scene because she saw a child's car seat in a layby and was concerned there might be a child at risk because the car seat was empty.

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"Thames Valley Police is working to understand the significance of the child's car seat and whether it is linked to the offence.

"However, to ensure the safety of the public, we would advise that if you see anything in a road or on the roadside that concerns you, make a note of the precise location and call Thames Valley Police on 101. The force can then make appropriate checks."

The suspect is not believed to be known to the victim.

The investigation is "working at pace" to identify the suspect and the victim is being supported by specially-trained officers, Ms Broad said.

She also said that police are appealing to anyone with footage or information to please come forward "no matter how insignificant you think your information might be".

Officers would like to hear from anyone with footage, whether dashcam, mobile phone or CCTV, from the A4 in Thatcham between about 11pm on Sunday August 15 until about 12.15am on the following morning.

These details can be given to the police or anonymously to Crimestoppers.

The police said people who have concerns can also contact their local neighbourhood team online or on 101 charities such as Victims First, Trust House, Rape Crisis, and Mind are available for those needing to speak to someone about any emotions invoked by this incident.