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Clapham chemical attack: Everything we know about Abdul Ezedi

Sex offender granted leave to stay in UK at third attempt after ‘converting to Christianity’

Maryam Zakir-Hussain,Jane Dalton,Namita Singh
Monday 05 February 2024 07:14 GMT
CCTV appears to capture moment Clapham 'acid attack' unfolded

A manhunt is continuing today after a mother and her two children suffered potentially life-changing injuries when a corrosive alkaline substance was thrown at them.

The fugitive at the centre of the attack in Clapham is convicted sex offender Abdul Shokoor Ezedi, 35.

In all, 12 people needed hospital treatment after the “targeted” attack in Lessar Avenue, which left the mother with injuries likely to be life-changing.

He also allegedly threw one of the children to the ground, and in his attempt to drive away from the scene, he crashed into a stationary vehicle and then made off on foot.

What do we know about Ezedi?

Ezedi, who is believed to be known to the mother, is originally from Afghanistan but is thought to have travelled to London from Newcastle on Wednesday, where he was last seen in Caledonian Road, north London, about seven miles from Clapham.

CCTV images from a Tesco, where he bought a bottle of water, show him with severe burn marks down the right side of his face.

It has since emerged that Ezedi was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018, for which he was 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 10 years.

He was then granted asylum in the UK in 2021 or 2022. He had been refused asylum twice before, but was granted leave to remain after converting to Christianity.

Images from Tesco CCTV show Ezedi with severe injuries to his face (Metropolitan Police/AFP via Gett)
Ezedi was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018 before being granted asylum in 2021 or 2022 (AP)

Having reportedly travelled to the UK on a lorry in 2016, Ezedi was allowed to stay in the country after a priest confirmed he had converted and was “wholly committed” to his new religion, The Daily Telegraph reported.

An asylum-seeker may claim asylum in the UK on the basis of religious persecution in their own country.

Police investigate the scene of an incident near Clapham Common, south London (PA Wire)

Metropolitan Police Superintendent Gabriel Cameron said: “At this stage I believe he may have been known to police but he’s not a local resident from London, as far as I’m aware. He’s come down from Newcastle.”

Bilal Khan, owner of Billy’s Garage in Byker, said the wanted man had been persistent when trying to buy a car from him last summer. Mr Khan indicated that Ezedi lived in a nearby halfway house.

“He approached me last year asking if I had a car for sale. We had one which he was interested in and I told him the price. He was a very persistent type of guy – he doesn’t let things go easily,” he said.

Here’s a timeline of how events have unfolded so far:

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Wednesday

During the day, Ezedi is said to have travelled to London from Newcastle, where he had been living.

Around 7.25pm

The attack on a 31-year-old woman who was with her daughters, aged three and eight, takes place.

Ezedi is said to have made an attempt to drive away from the scene but crashed into a stationary vehicle and fled on foot.

The Metropolitan Police were called the scene, with 12 people, including five officers, injured. Fire and ambulance crews were also called to help.

8.48pm

Ezedi was seen with significant injuries at a Tesco Express shop in Caledonian Road, north London.

He is believed to have bought a bottle of water before leaving the shop and turning right.

Later, he was last seen boarding a southbound Victoria Tube at King’s Cross station.

Thursday

Around 9.30am

Scotland Yard say the mother and three-year-old girl have potentially life-changing injuries.

1.35pm

Ezedi’s identity is revealed and members of the public are warned to stay away from him.

The Met say they are working with Northumbria Police as the wanted man may be trying to return to the northeast.

4pm

There is a heightened police presence in Caledonian Road, as unmarked cars with blue sirens are seen and police vehicles drive around the area.

6pm

The image of Ezedi buying a bottle of water is released.

Friday

3.45pm

Metropolitan Police Commander Jon Savell urges Ezedi to “do the right thing and hand yourself in”.

Mr Savell says “significant and important pieces of evidence” were recovered in east London and Newcastle on Thursday night.

3.55pm

Police say the injured mother is sedated and “very poorly” in hospital.

4pm

Police urge the public to help trace Ezedi, describing it as “really important”.

Saturday

4.55pm

Police release footage of empty containers with corrosive warnings being found in a raid on an address in Newcastle.

Tests are ongoing to work out if the substance is the one used in the Clapham attack.

They also say they have received dozens of calls about the manhunt, including possible sightings, as they renewed their appeal for the public’s help catching him.

Sunday

12.20pm

Police announce a reward of up to £20,000 is on offer to anyone who can provide information leading to Ezedi’s arrest.

Detectives also confirm analysis of the substance shows it is a “very strong concentrated corrosive substance”, either liquid sodium hydroxide or liquid sodium carbonate.

The Met also releases CCTV video footage of Ezedi in the Tesco on Caledonian Road, where he is seen buying what appears to be water in the self-service checkout before leaving the shop.

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