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Clapham chemical attack suspect last seen on Tube as containers with 'corrosive' warning found in raid

The manhunt for a suspect wanted over a corrosive substance attack - which left a girl and her mother with potentially life-changing injuries - intensified on Friday as it was revealed that he was granted asylum despite being a convicted sex offender.

Scotland Yard revealed Abdul Ezedi, 35, from the Newcastle area, was last been seen boarding a southbound Victoria Line Tube from King's Cross station at 9pm on Wednesday.

The sighting came just over an hour after the attack on the 31-year-old woman, believed to be known to Ezedi, who was with her daughters, aged three and eight.

Five raids were carried out across Newcastle and east London on Thursday night, with officers discovering two empty containers with corrosive warnings on the label.

Forensic tests are currently ongoing to see if the containers held the substance used in the attack on Clapham's Lessar Avenue at 7.25pm on Wednesday.

Meanwhile two fresh CCTV images of Ezedi have been released, including one of him at King's Cross Underground Station, showing him with serious injuries to his face.

Abdul Ezedi on Wednesday at King's Cross station (Metropolitan Police)
Abdul Ezedi on Wednesday at King's Cross station (Metropolitan Police)

The mother and her two daughters remain in hospital, police confirmed on Friday.

The mother is "very poorly" and has been sedated, while her children's injuries are not as serious as initially thought.

Making a direct appeal to Ezedi on Friday, Commander Jon Savell said at a press conference outside Scotland Yard: "Abdul, you clearly have got some very significant injuries. We’ve seen the images. You need some medical help, so do the right thing and hand yourself in."

He added: "Following the attack, we know he travelled from Clapham South Underground Station to King’s Cross Underground Station and I want to appeal for anyone who may have seen him travelling on this route between 7.30pm and 8pm.

"The latest confirmed sighting of the suspect is at exactly 9pm, when he is seen boarding an underground tube at Kings Cross station on the Victoria line southbound.

"As you have seen from the image we have released of Abdul Ezedi, he has suffered a serious facial injury. I’m making a direct appeal – hand yourself into police, not only so we can speak to you, but so you can get the urgent medical treatment you obviously need.

"Any members of the public with any information about the attack or the whereabouts of Abdul Ezedi are asked to call 020 7175 2784. I also ask anyone with any video footage, including video doorbell or dashboard cameras to please contact us immediately.

"I would also like to reiterate the fact that if you see Ezedi, call 999 immediately. He should not be approached."

He added that police received "dozens of calls of possible sightings" of Ezedi and "every single one has been followed up" and investigated.

Ezedi pictured at a Tesco Express on Caledonia Road on Wednesday night (Metropolitan Police)
Ezedi pictured at a Tesco Express on Caledonia Road on Wednesday night (Metropolitan Police)

Dozens of police dressed in protective “hazmat” suits raided an address in Leytonstone, east London, on Thursday night. It is understood Ezedi had a connection to the area but was not found.

The suspect, 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 January 9 of that year after pleading guilty to one charge of sexual assault and one of exposure.

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 Britain after a priest confirmed that he had converted to Christianity and was “wholly committed” to his new religion, the Daily Telegraph reported. An asylum seeker can claim asylum in the UK on the basis of religious persecution in their home country.

Police at the scene of an incident near Clapham Common (PA)
Police at the scene of an incident near Clapham Common (PA)

The Metropolitan Police released an image of Ezedi at a Tesco Express in Caledonian Road at 8.48pm on Wednesday - just over an hour after the attack.

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. If you see Ezedi, call 999 immediately. He should not be approached.”

During the attack Ezedi allegedly threw the woman's 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.

Ezedi is believed to have used a corrosive alkaline substance but it is not known if it was a household product. Bleach and oven cleaners are alkaline substances.

Three members of the public who came to the aid of the family, two in their thirties and one in her fifties, have all been discharged from hospital with minor burns. The Met said five officers who responded to the incident were also treated and have now left hospital.

One witness to the attack, bus driver Shannon Christi, said she was affected by the substance while trying to help the woman and two children outside her home. She told of seeing a man throwing a child to the floor, before hearing the mother saying: “I can’t see, I can’t see.”

As well as the 11 people taken to hospital, a man in his fifties, who also helped, declined hospital treatment for minor injuries, police said.

Scotland Yard was working with officers in Northumbria as Ezedi “could be going back” to Newcastle. He is believed to have travelled to London on the day of the attack but detectives are not sure of the motive.

Bilal Khan, owner of Billy’s Garage in Byker, Newcastle, said the wanted man had been “persistent” when trying to buy a car from him last summer. Mr Khan said: “I told him the price. He was a very persistent type of guy, he doesn’t let things go easily.”

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.”

Anyone who saw what happened can call police on 101, quoting reference CAD 7790/31Jan, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.