Police hunting a fugitive chemical attacker have raided two properties in Newcastle, as the victim’s neighbours shared their fears he could return to the scene of the crime.
Abdul Ezedi has evaded the Met Police for over a week after allegedly pouring a strong alkali on his ex-partner and injuring her two children last Wednesday in Clapham.
The two warrants, which included one at the 35-year-old’s place of work, were carried out in the early hours of Thursday in a joint investigation with Northumbria Police.
No arrests were made and the manhunt continues, with Met Police commander Jon Savell saying the search is an “incredibly high-priority attempted murder investigation”.
A team of 100 officers who are piecing together the Afghan asylum seeker’s movements in the hours after the attack have also revealed a new last sighting of him crossing Chelsea Bridge and entering Battersea Park at 11.25pm.
They know he initially travelled on the Tube network using his bank card, then appears to have walked a route that broadly hugged the River Thames.
At around 11pm he was seen on Vauxhall Bridge Road.
Officers revisited the scene of the attack in Lessar Avenue and handed out 250 leaflets on Wednesday evening in an appeal for information.
They said they spoke to many people in the area, including members of the local residents’ association, and also visited local Afghan restaurants.
It comes as friends of the victim launched a fundraiser and described her as a “devoted and loving mother” who is dedicated to her two young daughters.
Police have revealed that the 31-year-old woman had been in a relationship with Ezedi which had broken down and had agreed to meet him on the day of the attack.
She may now lose sight in her right eye and has been unable to provide information to the police as she remains sedated in hospital.
The hotel in Lessar Avenue, where the victim was believed to have been staying, now has boosted 24/7 security, according to residents as police step up patrols.
One neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, got some of the alkaline substance splashed on her eyes when she tackled Ezedi last Wednesday.
She told The Independent: "We still don’t know who this guy is or his connections to the area. I was really close to him.
"A lot of medicine was needed for acid in both my eyes.”
She added: "It was a group effort the neighbours came together and it was a collective effort to chase him off. Nobody lost their life which is remarkable."
Another neighbour who came rushing out last Wednesday, said: "I still think he could be in the bushes. I’ve been taking sleeping tablets ever since then.
"One of my neighbours has got an injury to their eyes they are so red.
“Another has third-degree burns to her leg after she helped take the baby to the hospital.”
The NHS worker added police had stepped up patrols in the neighbourhood since the attempted murder: "We’ve had a bobby on the beat patrolling with the big old-fashioned hat.
“I haven’t seen one round here since I was young. And more undercover officers sitting in a car I could see their walkie-talkies from my window.
“My voice is still hoarse but not much more thankfully since the attack. I threw my shoes straight in the bin.
"I’m just glad I didn’t get badly injured because I care for my father and we would be stuck.
"I just can’t understand how he hasn’t been found yet. There is CCTV everywhere in London. I don’t believe he would kill himself he was too arrogant - the way he walked away.
"I know an injury like that goes through skin, flesh and bone but in the CCTV he is walking away like he’s not in pain."
Officers arrested a 22-year-old man on suspicion of assisting an offender on Monday before later releasing him on bail the same day.
She added: "I know in this country you can’t just hold people but there needs to be consequences for people helping him flee justice.
"I think he knows London by the way he got to the Tube station within minutes with just one eye.
"I’m walking around with a personal alarm around my neck all the time now. Even going to the gym. I hope he doesn’t come back here.
Another female neighbour has been signed off work since the attack after her leg was burned in the altercation.
She said: "It’s a bit scary nobody knows where he is after all this time. They should get the helicopter up with thermal cameras in case he is hiding around the bushes.
"They found a dog that went missing from around here like that."
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.
Police have offered a £20,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the 35-year-old’s arrest after they released more CCTV of him as they piece together his movements.