A WOMAN was approached from behind and raped as she walked through Bournemouth Gardens yesterday morning, police say.

Detectives are investigating the "horrific" incident, which was reported just after 6.10am.

Emergency services rushed to the town centre after receiving a report that a woman had been found injured.

UPDATE: Man, 28, arrested after woman is raped in Bournemouth's gardens

Police and paramedics attended, and the woman - who is in her 40s - was taken to hospital. Her condition is stable.

Bournemouth Echo:

While at hospital, the woman reported that she had been walking through the gardens at around 5.40am when she was approached from behind by a man, who assaulted and raped her.

He is described as aged in his 30s with dark hair and facial hair.  

A cordon has been put in place in the gardens to allow officers to examine the scene as the investigation continues.

It stretches along Westover Road. Three police officers were manning the cordon this morning and forensics are at the scene.

Bournemouth Echo:

Detective Inspector Wayne Seymour, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “The victim has been subjected to a horrific ordeal and is being supported by specially-trained officers.

“I am appealing to anyone who was in the area of Central Gardens around the time of the incident and witnessed any suspicious activity or a man matching the description given to please contact us.

“I appreciate this incident may cause some concern for members of the public. I would like to reassure them that a full investigation is under way to identify the man responsible. 

Bournemouth Echo:

“While we do not want to cause any undue alarm, and incidents of this nature are thankfully rare, we would urge people to remain vigilant when heading to work in the early hours of the morning.

“There will be an increased police presence in the area as we carry out enquiries and local officers can be approached with any concerns.”

Work to construct the nearby Christmas ice rink and bar, which was outside of the police cordon, appears to be carring on as normal.

Bournemouth Echo:

However, Bournemouth shoppers said they were concerned to find a significant section of the gardens cordoned off

Poole resident Briony Oliver said: “I came through the gardens from the beachfront earlier and the whole area was taped off.

“Something serious must have happened. We’ve heard someone was found injured, but no-one seems to know much more than that at the moment.”

Another shopper said: “Hopefully the person hurt will be alright. It was very cold this morning so I hope they weren’t out here on their own too long."

Bournemouth Echo:

A spokesperson from the ambulance service said: "Paramedics called at 6.14am to the gardens to an incident involving a female.

"Paramedics treated the patient who was then taken onto hospital for further treatment."

Anyone with information should contact police via dorset.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting 55190178951.