A TEENAGE girl was sexually assaulted as she walked her dog in woodland.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack on the 13-year-old in Centurion Way, Purfleet, on Saturday, April 21.

The girl was with her Jack Russell when a man approached her and sexually assaulted her before running off.

Police had been contacted by the girl’s parents shortly before 7.30pm on Saturday after they were concerned for their daughter’s welfare when she had not returned from the walk.

The dog returned home on its own at 8pm.

Senior Investigating Officer, DCI Simon Werrett, said: "We started a search and found the girl in a distressed state in bushes near to Purfleet Military and Heritage Centre at 8.30pm.

"She was conveyed by paramedics to Basildon University Hospital where specially-trained police officers spoke to her."

The assailant is described as white, aged approximately 30, is over 5ft 2ins tall and has chubby fingers. At the time, he was wearing a black hoodie.

The victim was further interviewed yesterday (Sunday) by police and CCTV is also being examined to see if the assault and the attacker have been captured on camera.

Officers are also keen to identify a man who was spotted near to the bird-watching sanctuary who is a potential witness. He is described as white and was wearing white shorts a grey jacket and grey and white hiking boots.

Anyone with information in connection with this sexual assault, which happened between 4pm and 8.30pm, is urged to contact detectives at Brentwood’s Sexual Offences Investigation Team on 101.