Police are hunting a sex attacker following an attempted stranger rape in Witham.

The victim, a woman aged in her 20s, was grabbed by a man from behind in an alleyway near Bramble Road at 8.45am this morning.

He tried to rape her but she managed to fight her way free and flee, escaping with minor physical injuries.

The man then ran away in the direction of the park following the attack in broad daylight.

The man was described as in his 40s, white, around 6ft tall, and of stocky build.

He has dark, bushy eyebrows and short, shaved dark hair.

He was wearing a black puffer jacket with a hood and bright blue denim jeans.

He was carrying a grey and black backpack and spoke with a foreign accent.

The man is still on the loose.

Det Insp Mark Barber, said: “We want to hear from anyone who was near the location of the incident this morning, or who since then believes they may have seen the suspect.

“The woman has been subjected to an awful ordeal today, and is being supported by specially trained officers.

“Please get in touch with us immediately if you have information which can help our enquiries.

“We have officers in the area conducting house to house enquiries, and would like to offer reassurance that this is being treated as an isolated incident.

“Witham is a safe place to live and incidents like this are very unusual.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact us on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

UPDATE 12.55pm: 

Witham Town Mayor JoAnn Williams says she is in total shock after hearing the details of the incident.

She said: "I am so disturbed hearing about what has happened.

"I have lived in Witham for 14 years and never heard of anything like this happening before.

"It is even more distressing because of the time it took place, when people were walking their children to school and travelling to work.

"I would encourage people to do everything they possibly can to help the police.

"This is a very unusual thing to happen in Witham and somebody in the town will probably know or have seen something.

"People must contact the police with any information, even if they think it is insignificant.

"People should also be careful walking alone until this person is caught."

UPDATE 12.20pm Thursday:

Investigations are still ongoing to find the sex attacker who attempted to rape a woman in her 20s.

Police are still conducting enquiries in the area and speaking to residents.

Reports also suggest a helicopter was used to search the area overnight on Wednesday. 

Yesterday, neighbours told The Times they saw a strange man fitting the description acting suspiciously near to where the incident took place a few days earlier.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Picture showing remains of police investigation at scene.

UPDATE 8.30am Friday:

A man has been arrested in connection with the attempted rape of a woman in Witham. 

The 23-year-old man from Witham has been arrested on suspicion of attempted rape and remains in police custody for questioning. 

Police are still appealing for information on the incident, which took place at around 8.45am on Wednesday, January 3. 

A man approached the victim, who is in her 20s, from behind  before physically assaulting her.

During the altercation, she was able to fight him off and the man then ran away in the direction of the park next to Bramble Road. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact us on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.