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Clapham chemical attack fugitive snuck into Britain on lorry and was granted asylum after committing sex assault
1 February 2024, 18:04 | Updated: 1 February 2024, 23:24
The main suspect in a chemical attack carried out in Clapham was granted asylum after being convicted of a sexual assault.
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A mother and her two children were among 12 people left with potentially life-changing injuries after a "corrosive substance", thought to be alkaline, was thrown in south London.
It's feared a family was deliberately targeted.
Abdul Shokoor Ezedi, the main suspect in the attack, was handed a suspended sentence in 2018 for "sexual assault" of an unpaid work order, The Mirror reports.
It is understood Ezedi, who travelled to the UK on the back of a lorry in 2016, was previously denied asylum twice in the UK.
He was later granted asylum in 2021 or 2022 after claiming he had converted to Christianity and a priest had vouched that Ezedi was “wholly committed” to his new religion, according to The Telegraph.
Ezedi was last seen in Caledonian Road, Islington, in North London, having initially travelled down from Newcastle.
Police said he has suffered "significant injuries" to the right side of his face and urged members of the public to get in touch if they see him.
They released a new image on Thursday evening, showing the extent of the damage to his face.
The Met's Superintendent Gabriel Cameron said: "We are now releasing an image of the last known sighting of Abdul Shokoor Ezedi, which was on Caledonian Road, N1 at 20:48hrs on Thursday, 31 January.
"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."
A manhunt is under way for the "dangerous" suspect after he also allegedly threw the child to the ground in the attack in Lessar Avenue, near Clapham Common, at about 7.25pm on Wednesday.
Met police chief Mark Rowley has said that a total of 12 people were hurt in the attack.
This includes a woman and her two daughters, who police believe were known to the suspect.
The injuries may end up being life-changing, police said.
Meanwhile, four members of the public, three of whom went to hospital and were later discharged, were injured, as well as one who declined hospital treatment.
Five police officers, all of whom went to hospital, have also been discharged.
Mum-of-three Shannon Christie, who lives nearby, said: "I saw a little girl being thrown to the floor.
"At that point I ran in and grabbed her off the floor. I heard her mum shouting 'I can't see, I can't see'.
"So I called my partner to get some water. Staff at the hospital then came round and were dousing her with water."
Superintendent Cameron, a senior officer who polices in Lambeth, said earlier: "It was reported that a man had thrown a child to the ground and that a substance - which we now know to be alkaline - had been thrown.
"The man attempted to make off in a car but collided with a stationary vehicle, and then made off on foot, in the direction of Clapham Common.
"We believe the man and woman are known to each other. Our investigation is in its early stages and we are working to establish why this awful incident has happened."
He added: "We will catch him, I am wholeheartedly confident."
Superintendent Cameron added that police were working with other agencies to locate Abdul Ezedi.
"So we're liaising with other partners agencies," he said.
"We're working alongside Northumbria (Police), we believe the male is from the Newcastle area.
"And he could be going back there, he may not be, but he could be.
"British Transport Police are also working alongside us as well. So we are working in collaboration with other agencies to try and locate this male."
Anyone with information is urged to contact police on a special hotline 0207 175 2784. Members of the public have been warned against approaching the suspect and warned to call 999 immediately.