A man arrested for the assault and attempted abduction of a woman in her late 60s in Dublin is believed to have embarked on a drugs binge before he carried out the terrifying attack.
The 20-year-old man was arrested yesterday on suspicion of falsely imprisoning the woman who was walking near Blackhorse Avenue on Monday morning when she was forced into the boot of a car.
The man then tried to shut the boot but the woman's legs prevented it from closing and after a struggle he fled the scene.
Today, the Herald can reveal that:
● The chief suspect is not known to gardai for any sex crimes but has been arrested for petty drug and theft offences in the past;
● He is a member of the Travelling community, and is also being investigated for driving off from petrol stations without paying in the days before this attack;
● A prison officer on his way to work was alerted to the horror attack by the woman's screaming and helped her before the suspect fled the scene;
● Gardai still have no motive for the random abduction attempt but suspect the attacker went on a drugs binge before he carried out the assault.
The horrific ordeal happened at about 7.30am on Monday in Martin Grove, adjacent to Blackhorse Avenue, in Ashtown, Dublin.
As the woman was taking a morning walk, she came across the silver saloon vehicle which was parked at the roadside.
The suspect appeared from behind her and dragged her into the boot of the car but her legs prevented it from closing.
A struggle ensued and the woman's screams alerted a passing motorist.
The passer-by, a prison officer who was on his way to work at a Dublin jail, rushed to help the woman and the attacker fled. The prison officer took the woman to her home and the emergency services were alerted.
A major investigation was launched by detectives at Blanchardstown Garda Station and CCTV from the area was recovered.
A suspect was identified and in the early hours of yesterday the 20-year-old man was arrested in relation to the drive-offs from petrol stations.
He was questioned over those offences before being arrested over the false imprisonment of the woman.
The vehicle believed to have been used in the assault was also recovered. Sources said the vehicle was not stolen. It is being examined by specialist officers.
Detectives are also attempting to establish a motive for what is described as an "extremely sinister" attack.
"There is no connection between this lady and the suspect and all indications are it was an opportunistic and random attack," a source told the Herald.
"The woman and the prison officer who came to her aid have to be praised, and thankfully gardai aren't investigating a more serious crime."
Gardai are hopeful of bringing charges against the suspect in relation to the abduction attempt as well as the incidents at petrol stations.
Yesterday, a spokesman said checkpoints had also been established to assist the investigation.
"An incident room has been established at Blanchardstown Garda Station and a full investigation is being carried out," he said.
"As part of this ongoing investigation, a sequence of information gathering checkpoints were carried out this morning at the location of the incident on Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin 7.
"Gardai continue to appeal to any person who was in the vicinity of Blackhorse Avenue on January 6, between 6am and 8am, or anyone who may have information about this incident, who has not yet contacted gardai, to come forward."