By Madeleine Horton
An 18-year-old man arrested by Durham Police has admitted indecent exposure, after an empty sweet packet identified the flasher who had repeatedly jumped out naked to scare female joggers running by the river.
The man, whose name has not been released, was finally identified after leaving behind an empty packet of Haribo sweets and a till receipt for the item at one of his nearby vantage points on a disused railway bridge. Police were then able to use CCTV footage from the local store to identify the suspect and then trace his address in the city centre.
Around 12 local women had been targeted while out running since April this year. Reported sightings were located around the Durham Rowing Club and Maiden Castle complex.
The flasher would lie in wait among the bushes along the River Wear for unsuspecting women to pass by, then leap out and run alongside his victims while wearing only a pair of trainers.
The culprit was arrested by officers at his home address and later admitted to the offences. He has now entered into a four-month rehabilitation programme aimed at targeting his behaviour.
Officers had previously tried unsuccessfully to catch the man in the act, dressing policewomen in plainclothes to pose as unwitting joggers.
Local police were delighted to have caught the man and restored the usual safety and peacefulness of the riverside area.
Sgt Kay Howarth, of Durham City Police, said: “This was quite an unusual case as the riverside is usually such a safe place, which made us all the more determined to catch him.
“It must have been very alarming for these women to have a stranger jump out at them while they were simply out enjoying a run.
“We would like to thank all those who rang in to report this man and for all those local runners who helped with our investigation.
“Our officers were determined to find this man and we will continue to work to make sure Durham is a safe place for everyone.”
Photograph: Tim Rawle via Flickr