'Gimp suit' man terrifies woman in Somerset village

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Image copyright Handout
Image caption The victim took this picture as the "gimp man" came towards her

A woman says she is scared to go out after enduring a "terrifying" encounter with a man wearing a gimp suit in a dark village lane.

She was walking in Claverham, Somerset, when she saw "someone charging at me in a full black rubbery suit".

The man advanced towards her "grunting and breathing heavily" before fleeing the scene, she said.

Police said there had been a small number of reports of a man jumping out at people in the area.

Officers were called to the scene at about 23:30 BST on Thursday and used a helicopter and sniffer dog in an unsuccessful search for the man.

The victim, in her 20s, said the experience had "hugely affected" her, and she had chosen to speak to the BBC as she was concerned it may happen again.

"I would never forgive myself if this happened to someone else and I hadn't said anything," she said.

'Going to get attacked'

Describing the events that happened on her evening walk, she said she had her camera app open after spotting something on the side of the street.

"I was walking along with my torch and looked up to see someone charging at me in a full black rubbery suit and managed to take a picture," she said.

"He kept coming towards me and was touching his groin, grunting and breathing heavy.

"As I tried to take a step back he was right in front of my face and he put his leg forward. I was just trying to assess the situation in my head quickly."

"Everything was running through my head. I thought: 'This is it, I'm going to get attacked'.

"I was looking round thinking, oh my god."

The woman, who did not wish to be named, remembers pushing and screaming at the man, before he started running backwards to the main road.

Image copyright Handout
Image caption "I was screaming and shouting and no-one came to help"

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson said: "We're aware of concerns relating to a man acting suspiciously in the Claverham/Yatton area.

"While we're keeping an open mind about the motive for these incidents, it's clear the individual responsible is deliberately attempting to cause alarm to the men and women he's approaching.

"While no-one has been hurt during the incidents, we fully appreciate the distress these actions have caused victims."

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Patrols in the area were being increased to reassure the public and identify the man responsible, the spokesperson added.

The victim has been left feeling "panicked... that there's someone watching... and I don't want to go out.

"It's not just a man jumping out at me going boo," she said.

"Every time I close my eyes I just see that face."