A 55-YEAR-old woman was sexually assaulted on her way home from a night out.

Detectives are hunting a man, believed to be in his 30s, in connection with the incident in Darwen in the early hours of Saturday.

The victim had been out for drinks with friends on Friday night and got into a taxi outside Big Bites takeaway in Bridge Street at around 2.30am on Saturday.

A man, who she did not know, said he was going in the same direction and said he would split the fare with her so she agreed to share the cab with him.

But when she got out close to her home, the man followed her and sexually assaulted her, inappropriately touching her over her clothes.

She called the police and officers are now appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Detective Sergeant Eric Halford of Blackburn CID said he wanted to hear from anyone who saw the man at the takeaway or in the town earlier.

He said: “I have no doubt that somebody will know who this man is and will be able to provide his name.

“If the man involved is reading this appeal, then I would also urge him to make contact with us so we can speak to him and get his account on record.”

Det Sgt Halford also urged caution in relation to getting into a taxi with strangers. He said: “Darwen is generally a very safe place and most of us have done it, shared a taxi with someone we don’t know to split the cost.

“But people should be careful when they do this. To prevent yourself potentially becoming a victim I would advise never to share a taxi with someone you don’t know if you are alone.”

The offender was a thin, white man, around 5ft 6ins to 5ft 7ins and in his mid to late 30s. He had light brown, short hair and was wearing a light grey, knitted fashion jumper. He had a Darwen accent.

Anyone with any information can contact 01254 353562 or call 101, quoting incident reference 0267.