The suspect in a corrosive substance attack in south London, Abdul Shakoor Ezedi, was previously convicted of a sex offence in 2018 and later granted asylum after three attempts. The 35-year-old is currently being sought by the police after a mother and her three-year-old daughter were seriously injured in the attack, potentially suffering life-changing injuries.
Ezedi was last seen in north London and the public has been warned not to approach him but to call 999 instead. The victims, along with an older daughter of the woman, remain in hospital. Five police officers and four members of the public were also injured during the incident.
The attack occurred near Clapham Common and the suspect attempted to flee the scene in a car, which he crashed into a stationary vehicle before running away. A witness described the horrifying scene, likening it to a “horror movie”.
Ezedi, who was described as polite and respectful by a community worker who knows him, was convicted of sexual assault and exposure in 2018. He was granted asylum in 2020 after his claim of conversion to Christianity was accepted.
The Met Police have released an image of Ezedi showing facial injuries. It is understood that he arrived in the UK from Afghanistan in 2016 and completed an unpaid work order as part of his suspended prison sentence for the sexual offence.
The case has sparked frustration within the Home Office over the asylum tribunal system, as Ezedi was granted asylum despite his UK convictions. However, those working with asylum seekers argue that individuals can still be genuine refugees at risk in their home country, even with a UK conviction.
Police believe Ezedi is known to the family he attacked, although the exact relationship is unclear. Supt Gabriel Cameron expressed confidence that Ezedi will be caught. He also confirmed that Ezedi is believed to be from Newcastle and that the car left at the scene belonged to him.
A total of twelve people were injured in the attack, including five police officers and four members of the public who tried to help. The London Ambulance Service sent three ambulance crews to the scene.
The attack has been described as “absolutely awful” by local MP, Labour’s Bell Ribeiro-Addy, who highlighted it as a symptom of a society that “normalises violence against women and girls”.
Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick commented on Ezedi’s asylum status, stating it was “not a great surprise” to hear that he had been granted asylum after claiming to have converted to Christianity. He noted that there are often cases of asylum applicants presenting as Christian converts, “aided and abetted by often well-meaning but naïve vicars and priests”.