A woman told yesterday of her terrifying late-night encounter with a prowler in a gimp suit.
Abi Conroy, 23, said the stranger charged at her in a ‘full black rubbery’ outfit, ‘grunting and breathing heavily’, while she was taking a late-night walk in her quiet village.
Helped by passers-by she chased him off and was able to take a picture before he vanished through a hedge.
A woman told yesterday of her terrifying late-night encounter with a prowler in a gimp suit
Police yesterday arrested a second suspect over the incident.
Abi, who is a barber, said she was struggling to come to terms with last Thursday’s confrontation because she already suffered from anxiety.
‘It was a massive shock, I didn’t know if I was dreaming,’ she said. ‘I’ve already suffered from severe anxiety that’s why I go for my little walks – to try to clear my head. But it’s made everything seem a bit different. I’m just struggling at the moment.
‘If I could speak to him now I’d want to know why he does what he does. Everything is running through my head, I’d want him to know just how scary it was.
‘I’d want him to know how it’s affected me and that just because I’m female doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be going for a walk on my own at night which is what some have been saying. It’s terrifying.’
Abi and her wife, Pip, 22, moved from Birmingham to Somerset earlier this year looking for a quiet life.
Abi said: ‘In Birmingham you see that sort of stuff for a joke. But with this, I looked and when I saw the stitching around the mouth and the red eyes I was just like “oh my God”.
Pip, a carer, added: ‘This has just made us feel a little paranoid. We’ve moved to Somerset, it’s so, so, quiet it’s full of families and elderly people, it’s been lovely compared to Birmingham.
‘We fell in love with the area and then it’s just really scared us a bit. We’ve had a security light fitted because we’re feeling a bit uneasy at night now.’
The prowler has been sighted a number of times in the Somerset village of Claverham as well as in nearby Yatton.
Abi Conroy (left with her wife Pip at their wedding), 23, said the stranger charged at her in a ‘full black rubbery’ outfit, ‘grunting and breathing heavily’, while she was taking a late-night walk in her quiet village of Claverham, in Somerset
Locals have reported seeing him engaging in inappropriate behaviour with animals and acting suggestively.
He has jumped out on some victims and appeared at windows in the middle of the night.
Pip reported the incident to police and had a quick response from an officer who said: ‘Oh, I think we’re going to get Gimp Man tonight.’
She added: ‘He said it’s been an ongoing issue for the past four years and that it’s normally animals involved or he’d let himself into people’s gardens and has been seen humping their grass or breathing on their window sills, strange things like that.
‘He said this was the first time he’s actually made contact properly, other than jumping out and scaring people.
‘He made contact and wouldn’t really let Abi go so she did have to put up a bit of a fight for him to then leave her alone.
‘They said it had been quiet for six months and then all of a sudden they started to have a few more phone calls.’
Police used a helicopter and dogs to search for the prowler but were unable to find him.
However on Monday they arrested a man in his 20s on suspicion of indecency offences.
The suspect, who the Daily Mail has decided not to name, was described by locals as a quiet man from a very religious family.
Helped by passers-by, she chased him off and was able to take a picture before he vanished through a hedge. Above: Ms Conroy (left) with her wife Pip
He was last night released on bail and a second man, in his 30s, was arrested on suspicion of indecency offences.
Abi and Pip, who have been married a year, said that while they were grateful the police were doing their job, it would be difficult to relax until they knew the right person had been caught.
Abi said: ‘It’s good to know the police are doing their thing. That was a bit of a relief for me. I’m glad that it’s been taken seriously.
‘I don’t feel like I can even work at the moment. I’m a barber and every male that I get I’m going to find it weird until I know the police have got this man.’
Pip added: ‘We feel relieved there have been arrests. But at the moment we don’t know it’s definitely him.
‘It is weird – even if we just pop to the shop every man that walks past we’re looking at them thinking “could that be him”?’
The couple said they were upset that some neighbours were not taking the issue seriously. And despite advice from the police, the pair decided to go public to warn other residents.
Abi said: ‘There are little girls in Claverham that play out in the street until 9pm because it’s such a nice area.’
Her wife added: ‘If anything happened to anyone we would never forgive ourselves. Sometimes you’ve got to not listen to what you’re told and do what you think is right and that’s what we did.’
Last night a spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: ‘We’ve arrested a second man in connection with a series of incidents in the Claverham/Yatton area.
‘Since November last year, we’ve received 14 reports of a man approaching people while wearing disguises, one of which was a black body suit. In some of the incidents the offender is said to have performed indecent acts.
‘The man, aged in his 30s, was arrested this afternoon on suspicion of indecency offences and he is currently in police custody.
‘The arrest comes after a man in his 20s arrested yesterday was earlier released on police bail. Inquiries are ongoing.’