A serial sex attacker who targeted girls as young as 12 in Sutton parks has been jailed for eight years.

Croydon man Dean Willett, 26, sexually assaulted three girls and a woman in a spate of attacks in Beddington Park and Roundshaw Downs between May and August last year.

Willett was caught after police linked four attacks and launched a manhunt that culminated when Willett was spotted on CCTV images taken as he boarded a bus in September.

Willett assaulted a 12-year-old girl as she walked through an alleyway leading to Meller Close near Beddington Park on Sunday, May 12.

He grabbed the girl by the wrist and said "shhh - come with me", but the girl managed to get away and fled to safety.

Croydon Guardian: Police search the alley where Willett is alleged to have assaulted a girl

A police officer searches the alley near Meller Close

Days later he assaulted a 16-year-old girl who was playing with her brother on Roundshaw Downs. The girl had gone to search for her boomerang in bushes when Willett approached her and groped her breasts.

He then carried the teenager along a path and sexually assaulted her, he ran off when the girl's brother came over.

Willett then attacked a 15-year-old girl who was walking her dog in Beddington Park on Thursday, August 29. The girl managed to break free and ran off.

His final offence came on August 30 when he approached a 47-year-old woman as she walked her two dogs on Roundshaw Downs. He asked her "do you want to have some fun?". The woman told him to go away but he grabbed her from behind and sexually assaulted her.

The victim tried to push him off but he punched her in the face, knocking her unconscious and causing two of her teeth to fall out.

Detective Constable Clare Southcott, from the sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command, said: "I would like to thank the victims for their incredible bravery in coming forward and providing us with valuable evidence to which helped to bring Willett to justice today.

"Willett is a determined sexual predator who targeted his victims whilst they went about their day-to-day business. I cannot rule out the possibility that there could be other victims out there who have not come forward.

"I would hope that Willett's successful prosecution and jail term will give anyone who may be worried about coming forward the confidence to do so. I would like to reassure them that they will be treated with the utmost sensitivity and specially trained detectives are on hand to speak to them."

Willett admitted five counts of sexual assault and one of grievous bodily harm at Croydon Crown Court in February and was sentenced to eight years in jail at the same court this morning. He will be on the sex offenders register for life.