Man held in UK rapist probe

A 48-year-old man has been arrested by officers from Operation Orb investigating a series of rapes, police said today.

A 48-year-old man has been arrested by officers from Operation Orb investigating a series of rapes, police said today.

The man, from Ashford, Kent, was arrested at 11.30pm last night near junction 5 of the M20 motorway, a spokesman for Kent Police said.

He was being quizzed at a Kent police station.

The police spokesman said: "He has been taken to a police station in Kent where he will be interviewed.”

Operation Orb was set up to track down a serial rapist, linked by police to 10 sex attacks over the past year on young girls and women aged 10 to 52 in London, Kent, Berkshire, Surrey and Hertfordshire.

Involving officers from Kent, Surrey, Hertfordshire, Thames Valley and the Metropolitan Police, it has become the biggest manhunt of its kind since the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.

The “trophy rapist”, so-called because he has often taken an item of his victim’s clothing, is first thought to have struck on November 15 last year when a 10-year-old girl was raped near Ashford, Kent.

There was a break of eight months before, on July 1 this year, a 12-year-old girl was raped in Bracknell, Berkshire.

On July 11, a 30-year-old woman was raped in Earlswood, Surrey, and on the same day a 26-year-old woman was raped on Putney Common, south London.

On July 16, an 18-year-old woman was raped in Woking, Surrey, and on August 6 a 52-year-old woman was raped on Wimbledon Common, south London.

The following day, a 26-year-old woman was raped in Epsom, Surrey, and on September 6 a 13-year-old girl was raped near Woking.

A 22-year-old woman was attacked, but not raped, in Ripley Green, Surrey, on September 16.

The latest attack linked to the rapist took place on October 25, when a 14-year-old girl was raped in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

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