Abdul Ezedi: Police close net on Clapham attack suspect as Suella Braverman says the asylum seeker's history shows why UK must leave ECHR

Thursday 1 February 2024

Police continue to search for their suspect after an alkaline substance attack which left a girl and her mother with potentially life-changing injuries.

Abdul Ezedi, 35, from the Newcastle area, was last seen at a supermarket in north London.

He was described by Metropolitan Police Superintendent Gabriel Cameron as having “significant injuries to the right side of his face” following the incident in south London on Wednesday.

A 31-year-old woman, who is believed to be known to Ezedi, and her three-year-old daughter, alongside her other daughter, aged eight, remain in hospital in a stable condition.

Ezedi was granted asylum after two failed attempts, it is understood.

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: "The immigration history to this case demonstrates why we need a fundamental overhaul of human rights laws.

"Spurious claims based on religion are commonplace in our asylum system. The bar is low, it’s easy to game the system."

A newly released image of the last-known sighting of Abdul Shokoor Ezedi places him on Caledonian Road, in Islington, at 8.48pm on Thursday. There had been a heightened police presence, including unmarked cars with blue sirens and police vans, in the area.

Mr Cameron said: “The image is taken from the Tesco store, where Ezedi is believed to have purchased a bottle of water. He left the shop and turned right.

“The image shows Ezedi with what appears to be significant injuries to the right side of his face. This makes him distinctive.

“If you see Ezedi, call 999 immediately. He should not be approached.”

Police image of Abdul Azedi

Abdul Ezedi was last seen on Caledonian Road, N1, at 8.48pm on Wednesday January 31

Police at the scene in Lessar Avenue near Clapham Common

Metropolitan Police Superintendent Gabriel Cameron: “We will catch him, I’m wholeheartedly confident.”

A manhunt is under way for the “dangerous” suspect after he also allegedly threw the younger child to the ground in the attack in Lessar Avenue, near Clapham Common, at about 7.25pm.

In his attempt to drive away from the scene, the attacker crashed into a stationary vehicle and made off on foot.

Home Secretary James Cleverly, who described the attack as “appalling”, said: “My thoughts are with them (the victims) and the brave members of the public and police who intervened.

“I urge the public to support the Metropolitan Police’s appeal and to come forward if they have any information.

“While a live investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.

“It would be inappropriate to comment on a suspect’s immigration status during a live police investigation.”

Earlier, Mr Cameron said the force was working in collaboration with Northumbria Police as Ezedi “could be going back” to Newcastle.

He told reporters: “We will catch him, I’m wholeheartedly confident.”

Ezedi is believed to have travelled down from Newcastle on the day of the attack but detectives are unsure what led to the incident.

Mr Cameron said Ezedi may have been known to police previously.

He said: “At this stage I believe he may have been known to police but he’s not a local resident from London as far as I’m aware. He’s come down from Newcastle.”

Mr Cameron added that it was a “horrific crime” against a “vulnerable female”.

The suspect is believed to have used a corrosive alkaline substance but the officer said he did not know if it was a household product that was used.

Products such as bleach and oven cleaner are alkaline substances.

Three members of the public who came to the aid of the family, two in their 30s and one in her 50s, have all been discharged from hospital with minor burns.

The force said five officers who responded to the incident were also treated and have now left hospital.

One witness to the attack, bus driver Shannon Christi, said she was affected by the substance while trying to help the woman and two children outside her home.

She said: “I heard a bang and I heard someone saying ‘help’.

“I run outside and as I run outside I’ve seen this guy throwing a child on the floor, he picked her up and threw her again.

“So at that point I ran in and I grabbed her and took her into my block.”

Ms Christi said the three-year-old girl was crying and did not give her name while the older child stood outside her block of flats and was also in tears.

She added: “I’ve then seen her mum walking up the road again saying ‘I can’t see, I can’t see’.

“I shouted for my partner and he had run down the road trying to chase the man.”

Ms Christi said she went to wash her own arms and face after staff at the Clapham South Belvedere Hotel took the child inside.

She continued: “I’ve done that but my lips were still tingling, kept burning, kept tingling, so I sat in the ambulance for a bit and then they took me to hospital.

“It all happened so fast.”

As well as the 11 people taken to hospital, a man in his 50s, who also helped, declined hospital treatment for minor injuries, police said.

In a statement, the Clapham South Belvedere Hotel said: “At 7.25pm last night, police and ambulance services were called to attend on a serious incident in which guests at the Belvedere Hotel were a victim.

“Belvedere Hotel staff, having supported the work of the emergency services, have provided assistance to the guests affected and sought to reassure other hotel guests as to their safety and wellbeing.

“The staff team will continue to provide assistance to guests and the police going forward.”

Police in England and Wales recorded 472 violent and robbery offences involving a corrosive substance in the year to March 2023, the latest available figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

There were 525 recorded in the previous 12-month period.

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