London chemical attack suspect may have died in the River Thames, say police

Abdul Ezedi, 35, suspected of carrying out attack on young family in Clapham last month

CCTV of Abdul Ezedi, the suspect in the Clapham alkaline substance attack, at Tesco in north London. PA
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The man suspected of a chemical attack in London may be dead after going into the River Thames, police say.

Afghanistan-born Abdul Ezedi is accused of throwing a strong alkaline substance over his ex-partner, and injuring her two children, aged three and eight, on January 31 in Clapham, south London.

The Metropolitan Police on Friday said its main working hypothesis is that the 35-year-old had “gone into the water”, but no body had been found following a manhunt.

Officers raided two addresses linked to Ezedi in Newcastle in the early hours of Thursday, but his whereabouts is still unknown.

In a briefing at Scotland Yard, Commander Jon Savell said: “We have spent the last 24 hours meticulously following the CCTV, and it’s our main working hypothesis that he’s now gone into the water.

“We have looked at all of the available cameras and angles, and with the assistance of Transport for London and CCTV from buses that were travelling over the bridge at the relevant time and there is no sighting of him coming off the bridge.”

Detective Superintendent Rick Sewart said death was the “most probable outcome” if Ezedi had gone into the water.

Earlier this week police said the last confirmed sighting of Ezedi was just before 11.30pm on January 31, a few hours after the attack, as he crossed over Chelsea Bridge and entered Battersea Park in central London, then crossed back over the same bridge minutes later.

The woman had been in a relationship with Ezedi, with the breakdown of the relationship a possible motive for the attack.

Ezedi came to the UK hidden in a lorry in 2016, and was turned down twice for asylum before successfully appealing against the Home Office rejection by claiming he had converted to Christianity.

He was convicted of two sexual offences in 2018 but was allowed to stay in the UK because his crimes were not serious enough to meet the threshold for deportation.

A tribunal judge is understood to have ruled in favour of his asylum claim in 2020 after a retired Baptist church minister confirmed he had converted to Christianity, reportedly describing Ezedi as “wholly committed” to his new religion.

The woman hurt in the attack, who may lose the sight in her right eye, remains sedated in hospital and is still too ill to speak to police.

Ezedi, who is not the father of the children who were hurt, suffered significant facial injuries in the incident which police previously said could prove fatal if left untreated.

Updated: February 09, 2024, 5:36 PM