Lothian and Borders Police are appealing for witnesses after a teenage schoolgirl was the victim of a sexually motivated assaulted in Ratho yesterday afternoon.

The 15-year-old got off the number 12 bus at the bridge over the canal in Ratho about 4.45pm and was walking along the canal path toward the climbing centre when a man approached her from behind and grabbed her. When she turned round, the man was exposing himself so she struggled free and ran back towards Ratho. The man was following her, and the girl jumped into the canal to escape him. He then ran off towards Ratho, and she got out after a few minutes and contacted police.

Inquiries are ongoing with searches of the area underway and CCTV opportunities being explored.

The suspect is described as being white, early 20s, slim build and between 5ft 8-9ins tall. He had short dark spiky hair and was wearing a grey cardigan with buttons, loose jeans and was carrying a white shoulder bag (possibly Gola).

Detective Inspector David Storey said:- “This has been a terrible experience for the girl involved, although she escaped any injury she has been understandably shaken as a result.

“She has, however, been able to provide us with a good description of the suspect and so I would appeal for anyone who may recognise him to get in touch.

“Our inquiries are at an early stage, but we believe the suspect may have also got off the bus at Ratho behind the girl, so we are keen to hear from anyone who may have been on the number 12 from Edinburgh last night, and who have seen this man to contact us.”

Anyone with any information should contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131, or the charity Crimestoppers in confidence and complete anonymity on 0800 555 111.