Sex attacker charged

Police have detained the man they believe is the sex attacker who has preyed on university students in Coimbra recently. The suspect is now thought to have carried out three more attempted rapes, raising the number of attacks attributed to the same suspect to 15.

According to a Coimbra police spokesman, officers have now received reports of eight recorded rapes and a further seven complaints of attempted rape. The arrested man, a 32-year-old factory worker resident in Aveiro, was interrogated for several hours by the Judicial Police and is now being held in preventative prison.

All the crimes were perpetrated over the last two months, in the early hours of the morning and within two kilometres of the university. When he approached the victims, the suspect exposed himself and forced the women to accompany him to isolated areas under the threat of knives and screwdrivers – tools he used every day in his job. According to the police, one of the victims was slashed in the face during an attack.

The man carried out the attacks at different times and had no criminal record, a factor that made the police investigator’s job harder. Co-operation between the Judicial Police, the PSP and the National Institute of Legal Medicine (INML) was vital in the detention of the suspect. The Judicial Police brought in an expert to profile the attacker, based on information supplied by the victims, and the INML carried out forensic tests on the victims.

The police spokesman revealed that the alleged attacker has been married for 10 years to another factory worker, a 29-year-old woman, and has a nine-year-old son.He had emigrated to France, where his parents still live and only returned with his family to the suburbs of Aveiro four years ago. According to a neighbour, “his wife was becoming suspicious of his nightly outings, particularly because of the number of kilometres travelled in his car, but we don’t know what explanation he gave her or whether she asked for one.” Another person in the area said: “He was one of the last people we would suspect because he was a very quiet person.” If he is convicted, the man faces a sentence of between three and 10 years for each attack.

• In a separate incident, another individual, aged 44, has been detained in Coimbra, suspected of robbing and raping a student. The individual had been released from jail in December and, aside from rape, has been charged with armed robbery. One of the crimes was committed in partnership with a 24-year-old woman.