Diss woman’s warning after terrifying attack

A young mother last night spoke of the terrifying moment a man struck her over the head and attempted to get her in his van during an attack on a Norfolk street.

The 21-year-old said she feared for her life during the incident, which happened as she was walking to meet friends at a pub in Diss.

The woman, who does not wish to be named, said she had 'no doubt' that she was the victim of an attempted abduction after the man pounced after following her in what is believed to be a red Ford Transit van.

The mother-of-one was left with a badly bruised head after the offender struck her with a blunt object during the attack in Croft Lane, which happened at about 9.40pm on Friday.

The victim said the man, who was white, in his mid to late 20s, about 5ft 8inches tall, and of medium build, had grabbed her arm and was telling her to get in the van. However, he returned to his vehicle and fled the scene after she told him that she had a child at home. Her mobile phone was stolen in the struggle. Police are treating it as a robbery, but have not ruled out a more sinister motive.

The student, who is studying at City College Norwich, said she did not want to scare young women, but urged them to be vigilant.

'It is very strange and sinister and it is something you do not hear about in Diss.'

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'The one thing I was happy about was thank goodness it was me. I am not a small person and I had not been drinking and I know how many girls walk back and forth to the pub on their own all the time,' she said.

The woman said she became aware of the red van as she walked along Louie's Lane on Friday night, but as she made her way down Croft Lane towards the Cock Inn, the van drove ahead of her and stopped at the side of the road.

As she passed the vehicle, the driver got out and hit her over the head and struck again after she fell to the pavement.

The victim told her attacker 'are you kidding' as he tried to get her in the van, but he stopped after she said she had a baby waiting for her at home.

She said she was 'scared' and 'hysterical' and was found by two people walking up Croft Lane, who took her to the nearby police station. She is now recovering at home in Diss after spending a night at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

She added that the severity of the attack had not yet sunk in.

'I do think 'what the hell was he thinking?'. It is insanity. He could not have been that much of a monster. If it was completely premeditated, he would not have cared that I had a child. He must have had some shred of humanity not to take me.'

'I think it was a chancer and I do not think he was from around here. I do not think that someone from Diss would have done this. It is inconceivable. I hope it is a one-off, but I do think that people need to be aware. People do get complacent about living in a small town, but it is in the real world and these things happen,' she said.

Det Sgt Dave Sutton, of Thetford CID, said: 'It is an absolutely horrible incident and we need to find him [the offender] as soon as we can. We are treating it very seriously. In terms of terminology, we are treating it as a robbery, but that may or may not change.'

'It is not an every day occurrence. The victim has done very well in light of the fact it was horrific for her,' he said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Thetford CID on 0845 456 4567.