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Snatch suspect is arrested.

Byline: By Brenda Hickman and Rob Kennedy

A suspect was today seized by detectives hunting the abductor of a girl snatched from her bath.

The arrest of a 34-year-old came in a swoop at 7am in Blyth.

The six-year-old girl was abducted from her home in Willington Quay, North Tyneside, and subjected to a repeated sexual assault in December.

Detectives arrested the man who was living alone at the house in a low-key operation involving a few uniformed officers.

Det Insp Jim Napier, heading the inquiry, said: "A man was arrested early today on suspicion of child abduction and serious sexual assault of a six-year-old girl.

"He will be questioned in custody today."

It is understood the man has children but is no longer in a relationship.

He has already come under the scrutiny of the investigation team and today's development came after detective work and other factors.

He was taken to North Shields police station for questioning.

His home was searched by forensic experts and it is understood a number of items were removed for analysis.

A 25-year-old woman, from North Tyneside, was also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Officers investigating the abduction and sexual assault of the girl had made a number of appeals for help over vehicles seen in the area.

The youngster was taken on a terrifying 15-minute car journey, during which she was assaulted by the driver.

She was then dumped, naked and screaming, in a back alley near her home.

Her attack was featured on BBC's Crimewatch at the end of January.

The victim's family have been told about today's arrest but declined to comment.

Detectives previously arrested a Tyneside man, 42, a man, 36, and a woman, 44, from the Lincolnshire area over an alleged hoax.

The North East man has been cautioned for perverting the course of justice.

And the Lincolnshire man and woman were bailed pending further inquiries into the alleged attempt to pervert the course of justice.

At the time DCI Napier, said: "I'm confident the net is closing on the attacker. The inquiry continues with the same vigour and enthusiasm as at the outset and the team remain committed to catching this attacker.

"A significant number of inquiries are still ongoing, which include visiting registered sex offenders and people members of the public have named as possible suspects. It's a matter of diligent detective work, tracing these people, establishing their movements over the relevant time and either eliminating them from the investigation or pursuing further lines."

Today's arrest is not connected to the alleged hoax.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 4, 2006
Words:432
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