| 22.06,18. 06:03 AM |
Melbourne woman sexually assaulted after being driven away by unknown car
Photo: Police released an image of a silver ute seen in the Carlton area at the time. (Supplied: Victoria Police)
Police are investigating the sexual assault of a woman who was picked up by an unknown vehicle on a popular Melbourne restaurant strip, not far from where the body of Eurydice Dixon was found.
Investigators said two women in their 30s caught a taxi from a nightclub in Melbourne's CBD to Lygon Street shortly after 4:00am on Sunday 17 June, before getting out at the corner of Grattan Street.
They became separated when one of the women went to a nearby convenience store to get something to eat, while the victim of the assault remained on the opposite side of the street.
A ute pulled up to the corner and three men got out and spoke to the woman before they got back in and drove away.
The three men were captured on CCTV footage taken from across the street.
Shortly after a fourth man appeared to have some kind of interaction with the woman, before walking down Grattan Street.
"We then believe the victim was taken by a vehicle from Carlton to the vicinity of her home in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Somewhere along that journey we believe she was sexually assaulted," Detective Inspector Steve Wilson said.
"We're also still trying to work out how many offenders were involved. There may have been more than one, we don't know."
He said her partner took her to hospital when she got home and police were later notified.
Investigators believe there was a number of people in the Lygon St area at the time of the incident, and are urging anyone with information or who may have seen something to come forward.
They released images of two men and a silver ute seen in the area at the time.
Detective Inspector Wilson said all four men were being treated as witnesses, and it was hoped they may be able to provide information about the lead-up to the assault.
"We're very keen to find out what made them stop when they did and go back to our victim. At this stage we don't know what they saw that caused them to go back," he said.
He said woman could not remember the exact details of the attack.
"It's fair to say she's struggling because she doesn't know what's happened. It's very difficult for victims who do not know what happened to them," he said.
"It's a very difficult situation for her."
Detective Inspector Wilson said they did not yet know if the woman got in the car voluntarily or if she was abducted.
"We're still trying to identify where a possible crime scene may have been, or whether in fact a vehicle was a crime scene. All these facts we don't know and that's what we're trying desperately to find out," he said.
Melbourne still a 'vibrant, safe' city: police
Last week 19-year-old Jaymes Todd was charged with the murder and rape of Ms Dixon after her body was found at Princes Park, not far from Lygon St.
In a separate incident, a 21-year-old woman was sexually assaulted while walking home in Parkville after visiting friends.
Acting Commander Lisa Hardeman said despite the recent crimes, Melbourne was "still a safe and vibrant city".
"We want to reassure the community that they can continue to live their lives and enjoy this great city and all it has to offer. And it's everybody's right to do so safely," she said.
She said police patrols had been increased, particularly in the Carlton area, but Melbourne was an "overwhelmingly" safe place.
"But shocking incidents like those that we've seen in the past week remind us that we can never be complacent, this why Victoria Police is working closely with the State Government and the City of Melbourne to ensure we're doing everything we can to enhance the safety of our city."
She said a crime prevention assessment will be conducted on Princes Park, police patrols had been increased in the Carlton area and other parts of the city, and there had been a funding boost to CCTV across the CBD.