A MAN in his 40s has been arrested in connection with the rape and attempted murder of an eight-year-old girl in Co. Down over two decades ago.
The victim, now in her early 30s, was subjected to a "prolonged and violent sexual attack" by a man in Newry on June 10, 1994.
She was playing with a friend near the Barcroft Community Centre when she was approached by a stranger at around 7pm.
The man separated her from her friend before sexually assaulting her, tying her to a tree, knocking her out with a brick and leaving her for dead in nearby woods.
Police renewed their appeal for information by releasing a computer-generated E-fit of the suspect back in 2013.
Now, almost a quarter of a century on, police have finally made a breakthrough after arresting a man in connection with the horrific attack.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “A man, aged in his 40s, was arrested in the Newry area on January 30 as part of a police investigation into the serious sexual assault of an eight-year-old girl in the Barcroft area of the city in 1994.
“He was interviewed and subsequently released on police bail pending further enquiries.”
The attacker was believed to be in his late teens or early 20s at the time.
The victim, speaking to the BBC in 2014, said she was on her way to play football with a seven-year-old boy when her attacker approached them asking for help to find his little brother.
The man took the pair into the woods when he separated them by making the boy search in a different area.
It was then that the man raped her and attempted to end her life.
"He knew where he was going, so that does make me think it was a local person, or he hung about that area at the time," the victim said.
“I do get angry about it, thinking 20 years later he’s still walking about, you know?
"Is he still in this area? Does he know who I am now, maybe?"
She added: "Stuff like that goes through your mind, especially now that I have children of my own."