A teenage girl was led to the beach in Blackpool and raped in a terrifying late night ordeal.
The 14-year-old, who was on holiday in the resort, met a man at a town centre off-licence before the pair walked to the beach where the attack happened.
Det Insp Andy Bunn, of Blackpool’s Public Protection Unit, said the incident was “extremely serious” and his officers now needed the public’s help.
Detectives want to speak to a man they believe may hold vital information about the attack, which happened on the beach near North Pier.
Det Insp Bunn confirmed: “We are investigating a report of rape on a young girl and we are taking this very seriously.”
Police say between 10pm and 11pm on Sunday, August 24, the young girl met a man in the News and Booze store on Talbot Road and went willingly with him towards North Pier.
However, the man then reportedly became aggressive and raped the young teenager on the beach.
At around 11.30pm the victim, from Coventry, was seen with a man who police believe may hold vital clues to their investigation.
He spoke with an Irish accent and is described as white and in his early 20s with dark hair.
He is thought to have been wearing blue jeans, white trainers and a red checked shirt or possibly a purple hoody.
Det Insp Bunn added: “We are particularly keen to trace the man who was seen with this young girl on North Pier and I would urge him to come forward and speak to us.
“Similarly, I would urge anyone who may have seen anything around this time or might have any information about what happened to contact us.”
Peter Sedgewick, owner of North Pier, said: “I am absolutely shocked.
“The North Pier end is more out of the limelight than the rest of town and it is more family orientated.
“It is terrible. We had heard nothing about it and no one had reported anything to us.”
A staff member at the News and Booze off-licence, in Talbot Road, who asked not to be named, said police had asked the shop for any CCTV footage they had.
He added: “It is disgusting.”
Coun Ian Coleman, councillor for Talbot ward on Blackpool Council, said: “To hear that a 14-year-old girl has been raped is shocking to any right-minded person and god forbid it should happen.
“I certainly hope whoever has perpetrated this crime is caught and is very severely dealt with.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.