Police appeal for witnesses after woman raped near Peckham Rye station

<span>Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

An 18-year-old woman was subjected to an “horrific” rape by two masked men who approached her near a London overground station.

The Metropolitan police have appealed for witnesses after the attack near Peckham Rye station.

The woman, who is being supported by specialist officers, was walking down an alleyway off Elm Grove when approached from behind by two men about 10.20pm, the Met police said.

The two men were described by police as wearing dark clothing, both wearing gloves and face coverings.

The men took the teenage victim a few yards away to Holly Grove where she was raped, the police said. A cordon remains in place. No arrests have yet been made.

“Last night’s violent attack by two men on a woman near Peckham Rye station has appalled and upset our whole community,” the Labour leader of Southwark council, Kieron Williams, said on Twitter. “No woman should live in fear of male violence.”

The crime comes just 106 days after Wayne Couzens was sentenced to life imprisonment for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive who was abducted by the serving Met police officer while walking home, which provoked a national reckoning on male violence against women.

“Male violence is endemic, this is a horrific incident and it’s honestly petrifying walking home alone in the dark right now – almost all women navigating cities know the feeling,” Mandeer Kataria, a 30-year-old woman living nearby in Nunhead said.

“Since Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, what safety measures have been considered around that exact area? The council and local police will need to answer this,” she added.

“The investigation into this incident is fast paced and ongoing and involves an extensive crime scene,” Det Supt Clair Kelland said in a statement.

“We would like to speak to anyone who was in the area of Peckham Rye station between 10pm and 11pm last night who saw anything that might assist our investigation.”

The report comes on the same weekend thousands are expected to gather across cities in Ireland and the UK after the murder of 23-year-old Ashling Murphy, who was killed in broad daylight while out for a run in Ireland on Wednesday. The killing has sparked an outpouring of grief and anger throughout Irish society.

The incident happened near Rye Lane, a busy street of restaurants, shops and bars, but Southwark Police said multiple people have raised concerns that the area by the alleyway “is not very safe, lacking CCTV and lighting.”

Southern Rail said Peckham Rye rail station would be closed until at least 10pm on Friday.

Police told witnesses or anyone with any information to call 101 or tweet @MetCC quoting 240/14JAN. They said witnesses wishing to remain anonymous can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.