POLICE have released a 58-year-old man they arrested yesterday (July 30) after a child was assaulted in a Littlehampton playground.
The force is now looking for a new suspect after the six-year-old was grabbed by the shirt while he was on the swings at the Southfields recreation ground.
“We are confident that the man who was arrested was not involved in the incident at the park so we urgently need to speak to witnesses so we can identify the man who was involved,” said Detective Chief Inspector Tanya Jones.
“There were three other children with the victim in the park who saw what happened and we have spoken to each of them but there could be other people who saw the man in or around the park.
“I am very grateful to all those who have already contacted us but would urge anyone who knows anything but who has not yet come forward to do so.
“There were lots of children in the park at the time of the incident and I would like to speak to any of them who saw what happened. I would ask parents who live in the area to speak to their children and to get in touch with us if they know anything.
“I would like to speak to anyone who saw a man dressed all in black in the area yesterday.
“We need to speak to anyone who was in or around the play area in the park between 1.30pm and 2.15pm whether they saw anything or not so we can rule them out of the inquiry.”
The 58-year-old man was arrested shortly after 4.30pm on Thursday, with policing announcing this afternoon he had now been released from custody and ruled out of the investigation.
Officers were called to the Southfields Road area of the town at about 2pm yesterday after the boy told his family that a man had grabbed him by the shirt while the child was on the swings at Southfields recreation ground.
“The man was white, dressed all in black including something covering his face apart from his eyes, with blue shoes,” said police.
“He then left the area and the child, who was with three young friends, ran home.”
Police officers are in the area again today (July 31) speaking to residents and looking for the offender.
“This is an extremely rare incident and we do not know what the man’s motive was but we need to find and speak to him as soon as possible,” said DCI Jones.
Anyone with information should call 101 quoting serial 756 of July 30, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
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