A manhunt is underway in Sydney’s inner west after a man grabbed two women from behind and covered their mouths during assaults that have left locals questioning their neighbourhood’s safety.
One of the victims was taking out her rubbish bin in Norton Street, Ashfield, when she saw the offender walking towards her.
“I didn’t pay too much attention,” said the woman, who gave her name as Windy.
As she was throwing gloves in the bin, the man grabbed her from behind and put one hand over her mouth and another around her neck.
“As he was doing it, he was groaning but didn’t say anything at all,” Windy said.
“I was screaming and maybe throwing my arms around … and he stopped and threw me away on the ground.”
The man ran off, but ten minutes later he attacked another woman nearby in a similar manner.
Police are now searching for the offender, describing him as about 190cm tall, of thin build and having long hair.
Windy said she has begun to question her safety.
“Last night I was asking my partner and the policeman what do I do during the day by myself?” she said.
“I really want him to get caught otherwise I can’t feel secure.”
She said she did not see the man’s face, but recalled the smell of cigarettes from his hand over her face before she fought back.
“I just won’t allow something to happen to me in my backyard. It’s not right.”
Neighbours expressed their disgust and said they were also concerned about the man being at large.
Mike Cullen, who has daughters in primary and high school, said the incident was repulsive.
“It makes me feel pretty angry, actually,” he said.
“I’m a bit worried about it.”
Robert, who has lived in the suburb for three decades, said it was usually a very safe area.
“This was not anything that my lovely neighbour brought upon herself — she was putting her garbage bins out,” he said.