London woman left disfigured by shocking random acid attack by mystery woman in niqab as she walked home from work at Victoria's Secret

20-year-old victim releases shocking images of injuries in an appeal to catch attacker

A young woman has been left severely scarred and partially blind after acid was thrown in her face in a seeming random late-night attack.

Naomi Oni, 20, was on her way home from work to her home in Dagenham, East London, on 30 December when an anonymous attacker, wearing a niqab, threw the corrosive liquid at her, leaving her with serious burns on her head, neck, arms, legs and body.

She has now released the shocking images above to the Evening Standard in a hope that they may help track her attacker, whose face was obscured by the traditional Muslim women's dress, which completely covers the face apart from the eyes.

Ms Oni had been five minutes from her home in Dagenham after finishing work for the day at lingerie store Victoria's Secret at Westfield Stratford.

She has since undergone a month's treatment, undergoing skin grafts in Chelmsford's Broomsfield Hospital, where doctors initially warned her that she may not be able to see again. She can now see out of her left eye but still only has partial vision in her right.

Ms Oni, who is the sole carer for her 52-year-old disabled mother Marian Yalekhue, made the decision to speak out in the Standard after police failed to establish a motive for the attack.

Speaking exclusively to the newspaper she said the attack had “destroyed” her life and left her too afraid to venture out or even show her face in public.

“I look in the mirror and it just isn’t me. I’ll never look the same again. I’ve always been outgoing and confident in my job and in my personal life, used to getting attention for the way I dress or my hair, but now I don’t want anyone looking at me.

“I don’t want people to see me in public. I don’t want to get the Tube or the bus. If I have to go to the hospital I take a taxi. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to my job. I was planning to go to college in September to study media and fashion, but I don’t even know if I’ll be able to do that,” said Ms Oni.

The store assistant had just got off the bus and was talking to her boyfriend Ato Owede, 23, on her phone when she felt someone walking behind her in Lodge Avenue in Dagenham at around 12.40am.

She said:“I’d been working a late shift and was talking to my boyfriend about what we were going to do for New Year when I saw this Muslim woman wearing a niqab covering her face. I thought it was a bit strange at that time of night, but she didn’t say anything and I kept on walking.

“Then I felt a splash on my face. It burned and I screamed out. I started running and screaming, holding my face, all the way home. I didn’t look back.

“I got home and I was screaming and banging on the door. I was hysterical. Luckily my godmother, who is a pharmacist, was at home with my mum and she helped me and kept dipping my face in water and trying to calm me down until the police and ambulance got there. I was in shock. Saying: ‘Who would do that? Who would do that?’ How could anyone do this?”

Ms Oni faces months if not years of skin grafts and further plastic surgery and even then is likely to be left with severe facial scarring, according to doctors.

The retail assistant and her mother are too afraid to return to their flat and are currently sleeping on a friend’s sofa-bed after turning down the offer to be rehoused in Tottenham on safety grounds.

Ms Oni said she had been inspired by the story of Katie Piper, the model who launched a charity and spoke out publicly after falling victim to an acid attack orchestrated by her boyfriend, but that she would never feel safe with her attacker still at large.

“Even with the support of my family and friends and boyfriend I feel very alone. Nothing is going to be same anymore,” said Ms Oni.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said acid attacks were “extremely rare” and that detectives were keeping an “open mind as to the motive.”

Officers from Barking and Dagenham are investigating. No arrests have been made and inquiries are ongoing.

Anyone with information should contact police on 0203 276 1058 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn