Arrest 25 years after hitchhiker assaults

·2-min read

More than two decades on from two hitchhikers getting threatened at gunpoint and assaulted, Victoria Police have arrested an alleged sexual attacker.

Officers on Wednesday announced they believed they had made the breakthrough, arresting a 71-year-old Drouin man at Abbotsford about 8am.

Police said detectives would interview the man about two incidents in 1998, the first of which happened on September 24.

A woman was hitchhiking along the Belgrave-Gembrook Road at Belgrave when she accepted a lift from a man who drove her out to a remote area, threatened her with a firearm, and sexually assaulted her.

He then dropped her in Emerald.

In the second incident, a woman was hitchhiking along Wellington Road at Clematis on December 1 when she, too, was picked up by a man who threatened her with a firearm and sexually assaulted her in a remote area.

He dropped her off at Belgrave railway station.

Detectives are looking at any links between the alleged attacks and a number of other incidents involving sexual assault, abduction, and stalking in the Dandenong Ranges between 1996 and 2000.

In those cases, a man in a car came up to women aged between 15 and 22 in isolated areas with limited public transport. He offered to drive them and, once they were in his vehicle, threatened them with a weapon before sexually assaulting them.

Those incidents happened in and around Belgrave railway station, Wellington Road in Clematis, Belgrave-Gembrook Road in Belgrave, Selby and Menzies Creek, police said.

"These incidents have been subjected to lengthy investigations over the past 25 years and today's result is testament to the persistence and dedication of Sexual Crime Squad detectives, both past and present," Detective Inspector Juliann Goldrick said.

"No matter the length of time, we will continue to investigate these significant offences and try to find answers for victims of sexual assault."

Investigators believe the man used a number of different vehicles, including a maroon Toyota 4Runner four-wheel drive.

Detectives were keen to speak to anyone who hitchhiked in the Dandenong Ranges between 1996 and 2000, including those who may have been approached by the man and sexually assaulted.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting