Police have released CCTV footage that shows the man walking around Leeds city centre before the attack on a 24-year-old woman on Mark Lane, next to the St John’s shopping centre.
The victim had been walking to get a taxi home after a night out when she was approached by the man in Kirkgate.
He spoke to her and walked next her along Briggate before they reached Dortmund Square, where he picked her up in his arms and carried her to the scene of the attack a short distance away just after 5am on Friday, August 14.
Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs, head of crime for Leeds District, said: “The footage of the victim being carried off by this man clearly makes for disturbing viewing.
“We gave very careful consideration to releasing it and secured the consent of the victim who has been left understandably traumatised by what this man did to her.
“I think the CCTV gives a really stark illustration of the very serious nature of this offence and we hope it will focus the public’s minds on helping us to identify and trace the man responsible.
“The other footage we have released shows this man walking around Leeds city centre and we strongly believe he has been looking for someone to attack before he focuses on the victim.”
As part of the investigation, detectives have been carrying out an extensive trawl of CCTV cameras in the city centre and have identified the suspect at various locations.
He is shown loitering in a car park at the back of the Malmaison hotel in Swinegate at around 4.40am before approaching a woman on Swinegate at 4.45am, and is seen walking along Briggate.
The man is described as black, aged 30 to 40, tall, with a shaved head.
He was wearing a long black overcoat and black trousers.
Det supt Pat Twiggs added: “He is seen approaching a woman in Swinegate at about 4.45am. The footage is not completely clear but it shows a white woman wearing a skirt.
“I am appealing for that woman to contact us.
“A man can be seen walking in the opposite direction shortly before and a taxi can be seen parked nearby.
“We would also like to trace those people as potential witnesses.
“The way the offender is dressed does give him the appearance of a doorman and we have been making extensive enquiries with licensed premises.
“However, there could be other reasons why he was dressed smartly like this.
“I’m asking people to think about what events there were on in the city that night that he could might have been attending dressed like this.
“He may have been staying at a hotel in the city centre and we would like to hear from anyone who has information about that.
“The images of this man are very distinctive and we would urge anyone who thinks they know who it is to contact us.
“We have recovered a DNA profile from the victim and so can easily eliminate anyone whose name is put forward.
“The circumstances of the offence and this man’s behaviour leading up to it are a serious cause for concern and we need to identify and arrest him at the earliest opportunity.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Constable Rachel Gilsenan at Elland Road via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.