A woman has told how she heard screaming outside her home the night a sex beast pounced on a victim.

Heather McCabe said she was awoken by the noise during the early hours of Friday morning, around the same time a woman was attacked.

But Mrs McCabe did not call the police because she thought it was drunken girls messing around as they walked home from a night out.

Sussex Police cordoned off Clarendon Villas and Goldstone Street in Hove after the attack as forensic teams sweeped the area for clues.

Mrs McCabe, of Clarendon Villas, said she thought the incident happened near her home.

She said: "I was asleep and it woke me up but I don't know how long she had been screaming before that.

"We often hear screams and I didn't know if it was somebody in trouble or messing around on their way home.

"I wasn't sure what to do about it and then it stopped. I don't know how long it went on before it woke me.

"I wish now I had dialled 999 but at the time I didn't know. I thought it was youngsters returning from the pub.

"The noise did seem to go away from me, like she was running along to the right, which is west, round the corner to the church.

I have spoken to a neighbour who lives round the corner near the church and she said a lot of people out in the street heard the screaming.

"There were quite a few screams in a short space of time. If it had gone on any longer I would have called the police."

The victim did not know the attacker. He is described as Asian or Middle-Eastern and was wearing a baseball cap, dark jacket and jogging bottoms.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "Police stress that this type of incident is extremely rare and is being treated as an isolated incident."

Witnesses should call police on 0845 6070999 quoting serial 94 of July 4.