Boy raped at Manchester Debenhams after Arndale Centre abduction

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Men wanted
Image caption,
The attack happened in a Debenhams store in Manchester city centre

A boy was raped at a department store in Manchester after being taken from a lift by two men, police have said.

The 14-year-old had been going to the toilets in the Arndale Centre, near the entrance of Aldi and Subway, when he was approached by the men.

After threatening the boy, they led him to a nearby Debenhams, where one of them assaulted him in a toilet.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has released CCTV of two men they want to trace after the attack on 2 June.

Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd questioned why there had been a two-month delay in releasing details about the attack.

'Horrific attack'

"Everyone knows there are no easy decisions in a case like this but it really does raise important questions about public safety," he said.

"It does seem that the earlier the public are made aware of the danger and the possible identity of the attackers then the more likely they will be able to prevent future attacks and help the police arrest those involved."

In response, Det Sgt Liam Boden, of North Manchester CID, said CCTV images of the suspects were "circulated immediately after the offence" to businesses and neighbourhood officers.

Media caption,
Supt Stuart Ellison of Greater Manchester Police said the boy was ''traumatised'' by the attack

"In addition, we sent off evidence for forensic analysis, but when that proved negative we took the decision to immediately publicise the images," he said.

"This young victim has been absolutely devastated by what happened to him."

Police said one of the attackers was Asian and one white, and they marched the boy out of the Arndale Centre at about 17:45 BST.

The victim was told by one of the men: "Come with us, do what we say and if you try to run we'll get you."

He was taken upstairs in the lift in Debenhams and marched to a toilet where he was raped by the Asian man.

GMP said the traumatised victim had contacted police after the assault and had been supported by specially-trained officers.

Those officers have spent the past two months working with the boy to build up a picture of what happened and have been waiting for forensic results before deciding to issue an appeal, a spokesman said.

Supt Stuart Ellison said: "When you think about a 14-year-old out in the city centre at that time of the evening, when the footfall is pretty heavy and there are a lot of people about, the fact that someone could be marched across the street and into a store in this way is pretty horrific."

'Isolated case'

But Mr Ellison said such attacks were very rare and police had no other reports of any similar incident since June.

A Debenhams spokeswoman said: "We were shocked to hear about this incident and would like to reassure everyone this is an isolated case."

She said that following the assault the store had carried out regular toilet checks and briefed the cleaners to report any suspicious activity as well as putting the camera of the entrance to the toilets on a permanent monitor in the CCTV control room.

Anyone with information is asked to call North Manchester CID or Crimestoppers.

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