A girl of 11 was subjected to a horrifying two-hour rape in a park after being snatched as she walked home from school.
The child was taken to hospital with severe injuries after the attack and has since undergone surgery.
Police revealed yesterday that her ordeal began when she got off a bus on Friday at around 4.30pm.
Sensing she was being followed by a man, she crossed the road several times to try to shake him off. Moments later he caught up with her and dragged her off the street. He then pulled her into a nearby park where he raped her.
The victim finally got home around 8pm and told her distressed parents what had happened and they took her to hospital.
The attack took place in Jubilee Park, which lies opposite a row of smart houses in the affluent North London suburb of Enfield.
Detective Inspector Simon Ellershaw, who is leading the investigation, said it was a ‘horrific attack on a defenceless young girl’. ‘It doesn’t need me to say how serious an attack this is,’ he said.
‘We come across this type of assault on very rare occasions and are treating it with the utmost seriousness.
‘The girl is still in hospital and has had to have surgery to treat her severe injuries.
‘She is being supported by her family and of course I’m hoping she will be able to make a full recovery.’
Officers from Scotland Yard’s Sapphire Unit, which investigates rape and sexual assault in the capital, have interviewed the victim in hospital.
Mr Ellershaw said the girl told officers the attack went on for two hours. Describing her walk home, the detective said: ‘At some point she has become aware that someone was following her, and she crossed the road a couple of times because of this.
‘Then she was dragged into a park and subjected to a brutal sexual assault.
‘She got back home at about 8pm – almost three and a half hours after she got off the bus. Clearly that is a long time and witnesses may well have seen her wandering the streets in a dishevelled state.’
Yesterday teams of officers made house-to-house inquiries in the hope someone may have seen the attacker or the victim. Up to 60 officers are working on the investigation.
Mr Ellershaw added: ‘We are concentrating all our efforts in capturing this individual and we are conducting extra patrols in the area to reassure the public and prevent any further attacks.’
‘We are interested in speaking to anyone in the Jubilee Park area between 4.15pm and 7.45pm on Friday, and may have seen anyone acting suspiciously or anyone following a girl in school uniform.’
Police described the suspect as a black male with afro hair wearing a dark grey top and black baggy jeans.
Local residents spoke of their disbelief that such an attack had happened within yards of commuters walking home.
Lewis Francis, 28, said: ‘I imagine the poor girl’s family must have thought it would be safe for her to walk home in the afternoon from the bus stop because lots of people are about at that time.
‘People I know are not going to let their children walk to school alone now – at least not until he is caught.’