'Her face was really damaged': Witnesses tell of horror injuries after mother and two children targeted in acid attack

1 February 2024, 08:15 | Updated: 1 February 2024, 08:51

Woman and two children in hospital after ‘corrosive substance attack’

  • Did you witness the incident? Email crime@lbc.co.uk

By Asher McShane

A mother and her two young children were among nine people rushed to hospital after a ‘corrosive substance’ was thrown in south London.

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Witnesses told LBC the woman suffered serious facial injuries in the attack last night. Three bystanders who tried to help the mother and her children were also injured - along with three police officers.

An urgent manhunt has been launched to find the attacker including a police helicopter which has been deployed after a man fled the scene following the attack. No arrests have been made.

The victim was known to her attacker, Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy told LBC News.

She said: "They’re not looking for someone I think that’s unknown to them, this individual was obviously known to the woman and the children who were attacked primarily, so they do have a lead and we hope that they will apprehend him very soon."

The woman was heard screaming: "My eyes! My eyes! Call the police" according to eyewitnesses.

LIVE updates: Manhunt for acid attacker after mum and two children targeted in Clapham, with nine left injured

A witness, Shane, who lives nearby told LBC: “Everyone was rushing around, there were police in the building securing the building, they had taped up chairs inside.

“I feel bad for the lady. I know acid attacks are not a good thing. I heard her face was really damaged.

An abandoned car at the scene of the attack
An abandoned car at the scene of the attack. Picture: Alamy

“The receptionist told me.”

“I heard somebody got picked up and thrown down.

“Last night they said the person is still at large.”

The mother and her children were given "immediate emergency care" before being rushed to hospital after the 'horrific' incident on Lessar Avenue, near Clapham Common on Wednesday evening.

Forensic investigators at the scene
Forensic investigators at the scene. Picture: Alamy

Three bystanders rushed in to help the mum and her two children but were also injured in the attack and later required medical assistance, police said.

Victims were treated for acid burns at a nearby hotel
Victims were treated for acid burns at a nearby hotel. Picture: LBC

Five have been taken to a major trauma centre and three were taken to a local hospital, according to the London Ambulance Service. The ninth was discharged at the scene.

Three police officers were among those injured, although their injuries are believed to be minor, the force said.

An eyewitness to the incident, who asked to remain anonymous, said they saw a man in a white car with two children.

He had been fighting with the woman before he seemed to try and run her over with the car, the witness said.

A mother and her two young children are in hospital after the attack
A mother and her two young children are in hospital after the attack. Picture: Alamy

"He grabbed one of the two children and violently grabbed them and slammed them on the floor.

"The lady then shouted 'My eyes! My eyes! Call the police, my eyes!' Then I saw him run off. It was all so traumatising," they told Sky News.

One of the people who got the substance on them from helping said: "I then ran into my house, grabbed a water bottle and threw water on [the mother's] eyes.

"Her lips were black. Her skin looked burned.

One onlooker said the woman's lips had 'turned black'
One onlooker said the woman's lips had 'turned black'. Picture: Alamy

"I then chased the man halfway down the street. I was wearing my slippers so didn't get very far."

Another resident who lives nearby said: “I’m scared - it’s a very, very quiet street. Nothing happened before.. it’s a very very quiet street.”

A third said: “We’ve been here for so many years and nothing like this has ever happened.”

“It s a bit of a shock, we feel a bit unsafe, the man is obviously still on the loose, we don’t know if he’ll be back.”

Detective Superintendent Alexander Castle said: “Officers are on scene following this horrific incident.

"Three victims - a woman and her two young children - have been taken to hospital for treatment.

"Three other people - all adults - have been taken to hospital for injuries sustained, we believe, as they came to their aid."

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"Three police officers have also been taken to hospital after they responded to the incident. Thankfully we believe their injuries to be minor.

"While tests are ongoing to determine what the substance is, at this stage we believe it to be a corrosive substance.

"A man was seen fleeing the scene. We are drawing on resources from across the Met to apprehend this individual and work is ongoing to determine what has led to this awful incident.”

A spokesman for London Fire Brigade said: 'Firefighters were called to a chemical incident on Lessar Avenue in Clapham this evening.

"Working alongside emergency service partners, crews provided immediate emergency care to a woman and two children. 

"Five further people were also treated at the scene. They were all taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service crews. 

"Crews also used specialist equipment to detect a corrosive substance that is believed to have been used in the incident."

London Assembly member Marina Ahmad wrote on X: “There has been a traffic collision with a man assaulting occupants in a car and throwing acid. Victims include children”.

Councillors Alison Inglis-Jones and Ben Curtis for the local area said the wider community had been left in 'disbelief' over the 'shocking incident'.

A joint statement from the Clapham Common and Abbeville councillors said: “We are appalled by the shocking incident that has taken place in our ward of Clapham Common & Abbeville and send our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to all those who have been affected.

“The two of us, and the wider community, are in total disbelief and shock at what has happened on Lessar Avenue this evening.

“We would like to thank the hard work of the Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade for their quick response, rapid cordoning off of the scene and communication with residents.”