Gardai in Athlone are seeking further witnesses in relation to the assault on a young woman out walking in the company of two others on the Dublin Road on Monday night (August 24 ).
They have confirmed a man in his 20s with an address in the town has been charged with assault under Section 2 of the Nonfatal Offences Against the Person Act in relation to the incident.
A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP ).
The suspect was released on Tuesday evening (August 25 ) after being questioned under Section 4 of the Offences against the State Act.
The alleged incident occurred shortly after midnight on the night in question close to the Bonavalley railway bridge and prompted a minor media frenzy on account of its resemblance to a number of similar incidents in the vicinity in 2007 and 2008.
Apparently, a man stopped a car near the bridge, got out and made a “suspicious approach” to one of the women.
Gardai at the moment are keeping an open mind on the issue and are refusing to comment on whether this attack is related to the previous ones, is a deliberate copycat, or is an unrelated coincidence.
However, informed sources say it is most likely to be either of the latter options because of the major changes in the modus operandi, or “method of operation” of the suspect.
In the 2007-08 assaults, no car was used and the assailant targeted women on their own before trying to drag them into a nearby area of waste ground.
In fact, it was the use of a car and its subsequent quick identification that led to the arrest of Monday night’s suspect before he had even reached Ballinasloe.