License article

Echoes of Jill Meagher case as man attacks women in Brunswick

Two late-night sexual attacks on Sydney Road have revived terrifying memories of Jill Meagher's abduction and reinforced the dangers of leaving inner-city bars alone, police say.

A year and a half after the night Ms Meagher was abducted in Brunswick, police are hunting another sexual predator who pulled two young women into side streets from Sydney Road in separate incidents last weekend while they were heading home from Brunswick bars.

The women, both aged 22, managed to escape the attacker, who grabbed them from behind, dragged them into dark streets and indecently assaulted them.

"Twelve to 18 months from that last incident with Jill Meagher, it's worrying that people can't go out," Detective Senior Constable Dean Solomon said.

"Sydney Road is a very cosmopolitan area, there are a lot of restaurants and night clubs and licensed venues ... People should be free to come and go and visit and do what they want to do."

One of the victims ran to her cousins's house in Brunswick after she was attacked.


The cousin, who did not want to be named, told Fairfax Media the victim had been in the "wrong place at their wrong time", and it could have happened to anybody.

"She is just very lucky ... she didn't fight him away, she was yelling and he was grabbing her face and she felt totally overpowered by his strength, but all of a sudden he just took off," she said.

"I think its crazy for people to walk home alone ... there should not be any false sense of security.

"If the wrong person is around, that's all it takes."

Senior Constable Solomon said the man had approached the women from behind and, in both instances, grabbed them in a "bear hug" or "head-lock" before dragging them down side streets.

"With one of them, he has tried to sit on top of her and pin her arms as she was throwing her arms around trying to get away," he said.

"In the end I think he has just given up and gone."

In the first incident, a young woman was indecently assaulted in Stuart Street about 1.15am. The woman managed to escape and she ran back to Sydney Road, flagging down a friend who was passing by in a cab.

Police said the man approached the other woman on nearby Charles Street the same night. He wrestled her to the ground, but the 22-year-old pulled herself free and ran home.

Neither woman was physically injured in the attacks.

Senior Constable Solomon said the man told one of the victims it was the first time he had ever tried to attack a woman, according to police.

"To one of the victims he said he was homeless and this is the first time he had ever done this sort of thing," Senior Constable Solomon said.

He said the indecent assaults should be a warning for all people - not just women - to be careful when leaving night-spots by themselves.

"I wouldn't just say women, I'd say all members of the community ... you need to be vigilant of the areas you are in.

"I wouldn't want to be a male walking home that time of night either.

He said police were working hard to find and arrest the offender to "restore the community's faith".

Investigators have released a photo of a man they would like to speak to about the incidents.

He is described as 180 centimetres tall with a thin build and fair complexion. At the time, he was wearing a dark-coloured hoodie with blue jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. 

with Tessa van der Riet