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Acid attack suspect 'may have fled the country', former Met Police detective warns as manhunt enters fifth day
5 February 2024, 15:55 | Updated: 5 February 2024, 16:13
Chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi may have fled the country, a former Met Police detective has warned as the manhunt enters its fifth day.
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Peter Kirkham, former detective chief inspector in the Metropolitan Police told LBC his "best guess" was that Ezedi was being sheltered by an ally or had escaped abroad.
Officers have been searching for the 35-year-old since Wednesday after a 31-year-old woman and her daughters, aged eight and three, were attacked in Clapham.
The woman, who suffered potentially life-changing injuries, was known to Ezedi and remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition.
Kirkham told LBC: "He's not somebody where you're relying on the public to remember a description and be able to recognise a face in crowds of hundreds and thousands.
"But he's got a very distinctive injury to his face so he's going to be noticed."
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Kirkham said he was "surprised that he hasn't come to light so far" and concluded that this left two options.
"The most likely is that he's somewhere being sheltered by friends and relatives," Kirkham said, "or secondly that he's managed to escape from the UK.
"I say the first one is probably favoured on the basis it doesn't appear to be a planned escape.
"He would have intended to drive away from the scene rather than be on tubes and busses and suchlike - but he had the collision with his vehicle it would seem."
Kirkham said another option may be that Ezedi had done himself harm but stressed it would generally come to light very swiftly if this was the case.
The manhunt has now entered its fifth day with a £20,000 reward in place for anyone with information leading to his arrest.
Police said the last sighting of Ezedi, who is from Newcastle, was at 9.33pm at Tower Hill Underground station in east London on January 31, shortly after the attack in Clapham.
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On Sunday, police said the suspect used a "very strong concentrated corrosive substance" - thought to be alkaline - in the attack.
Police investigators believe there are people who know Ezedi's whereabouts and have not come forward. The Met has warned anyone found assisting him will face arrest.
Police said Ezedi left Newcastle in the early hours of Wednesday and travelled south to London and was in the Tooting area by around 6.30am.
His vehicle was seen again in Croydon, south London, at around 4.30pm and by around 7pm he was in Streatham. Ezedi allegedly threw the younger child to the ground during the attack at 7.25pm, before attempting to drive away from the scene, crashing into a stationary vehicle and fleeing on foot.
Minutes later he boarded a Tube train at Clapham South Underground station, and by 8pm he was at King's Cross Tube station.
Police say three members of the public who came to the aid of the family during Wednesday's attack, two aged in their 30s and one in her 50s, have all been discharged from hospital with minor burns.
Officers were also dispatched to Machester Piccadilly railway station on Saturday evening following reports of a sighting of Ezedi.
Firearms officers and transport police attended the sighting but it was confirmed to be a false alarm.