A manhunt is under way for the ‘dangerous’ suspect involved in a chemical attack in south London on Wednesday.
Abdul Ezedi, from the Newcastle area, is being sought over an alkaline substance assault near Clapham Common which left a little girl and her mother with potentially life-changing injuries.
The 35-year-old is described by police as having “significant injuries to the right side of his face”, having last been seen at a supermarket in north London on Wednesday evening.
The sighting came just over an hour after an attack on a 31-year-old woman, believed to be known to Ezedi, who was with her daughters, aged three and eight. All three remain in hospital.
It is understood that Ezedi, who is reportedly from Afghanistan, was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018 and given a suspended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court.
The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed he was sentenced on 9 January of that year after pleading guilty to one charge of sexual assault and one of exposure.
Ezedi was put on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years.
He was granted asylum after two failed attempts, having reportedly travelled to the UK on a lorry in 2016, it is believed.
Ezedi was allowed to stay in the country after a priest confirmed he had converted to Christianity and was “wholly committed” to his new religion, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.
The Metropolitan Police have released an image of the suspect’s last-known sighting, placing him in a Tesco Express shop on Caledonian Road, north London, at 8.48pm on Wednesday.
Superintendent Gabriel 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.”
Ezedi is believed to have used a corrosive alkaline substance in the attack but it is not known if it was a household product that was used.
He also allegedly threw the younger child to the ground.
In his attempt to drive away from the scene, the attacker crashed into a stationary vehicle and made off on foot.
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.
Scotland Yard is working in collaboration with officers in Northumbria as Ezedi, who may have been known to police, “could be going back” to Newcastle.
Ezedi is believed to have travelled down from the North East on the day of the attack, but detectives are unsure what led to the incident.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he does not think “foreign criminals should be able to stay” in the UK when asked about Ezedi.
His spokesman told reporters: “First and foremost on the attack, obviously, it was a horrific attack and the PM’s thoughts are with the victims and their families.
“And he’d like to extend his thanks to the emergency services for the very quick response to the scene and the five officers who were injured in the incident.”
The official declined to comment on the suspect’s immigration status during a live police investigation but said that, more broadly, “the PM doesn’t think that foreign criminals should be able to stay in the country, putting the public at risk”.
He pointed to action the government is taking in the Nationality and Borders Act and Illegal Migration Act.
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.”