Teenager in custody after alleged rape in Cheltenham
POLICE were last night questioning an 18-year-old man following a suspected rape in a Cheltenham car park.
A 22-year-old woman was allegedly assaulted in the early hours of yesterday morning in the Bath Road area.
Officers cordoned off the car park, which is off Bath Road, near the junction with Bath Parade.
It remained sealed off throughout most of the day while forensic experts painstakingly combed the area for evidence.
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Officers have arrested an 18-year-old man, from Tetbury, on suspicion of rape.
Traders and residents in the community reacted with shock at the news.
Sophie Best, who runs the Abbey Hotel in Bath Parade, said: "It's terrible and certainly not the kind of thing we want to be happening on our doorstep.
"Unfortunately, we sometimes do get some incidents nearby because we are based so close to the town centre so we get people spilling out of all the clubs late at night.
"There hasn't been anything this serious for a long time though."
Kirsty Hopkins, manager of Wetherspoon's Moon Under Water pub, in Bath Road, said police had been working at the scene for several hours.
"It's quite shocking," she said. "I saw police were there when I arrived for work.
"We have door staff working here during opening hours, which provides some security to the area, but we closed last night at midnight.
"Other clubs in the area would have been open until later.
"We haven't had police in asking any questions or asking for our CCTV, but obviously we're happy to help in any way we can."
Fellow traders said the police had been in the car park since the early hours of the morning.
The incident was reported at 3.45am yesterday.
Colin Pilsworth, co-ordinator of Cheltenham Nightsafe – a support network for staff at pubs, clubs and late night restaurants – said the crime was an isolated incident.
"We do everything we can to make sure the town centre is a safe place at night," he said.
"Unfortunately this has happened and it's very bad news.
"But we will continue to look at any way in which we can stop isolated incidents like this from giving the town centre a bad reputation."
A spokesman for the police confirmed the force was not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
He said: "If anyone was in the area at the time and saw anything then we would urge them to contact us.
"The woman involved in the incident is recovering and she is receiving all the appropriate support in the circumstances."
Anyone with information should call the police on 101.