Marine search underway for body of Clapham chemical attack suspect

Police believe Abdul Ezedi entered the River Thames in the hours after the attack in Clapham. No body has been found so far

The Metropolitan Police said they will be searching the River Thames for the body of Alkali attack suspect Abdul Ezedi on Saturday - though it may never be found.

The search of the Thames will involve boats from the Marine Policing Unit and will take place at low tide, Detective Superintendent Rick Sewart told reporters on Friday.

It is possible they may never find Ezedi’s body due to the speed of the current in the Thames, he added.

“At this time of year, the Thames is very fast flowing, very wide and full of lots of snags.

"It is quite likely that if he has gone in the water, he won’t appear for maybe up to a month and it’s not beyond possibility that he may never actually surface.”

The force said its main working hypothesis was the 35-year-old had “gone into” the after being seen leaning over the railings of Chelsea Bridge in west London on the night of the incident.

In a briefing at Scotland Yard, Commander Jon Savell said: “We have spent the last 24 hours meticulously following the CCTV, and it’s our main working hypothesis that he’s now gone into the water.

“We have looked at all of the available cameras and angles, and with the assistance of Transport for London and CCTV from buses that were travelling over the bridge at the relevant time and there is no sighting of him coming off the bridge."

Asked whether police were willing to say that Ezedi was dead, Mr Sewart said: “I’m prepared to say that he’s gone into the water and if he’s gone into the water then that’s the most probable outcome.”

Ezedi, from the Newcastle area, is accused of pouring a strong alkali on his ex-partner, and injuring her two young children, aged three and eight, on January 31 in Clapham, south London.

Injuries to the right side of Abdul Ezedi’s face are clearly visible in CCTV images in the hours after the attack Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

The woman had been in a relationship with Ezedi, with the breakdown of the relationship a possible motive for the attack.

Mr Savell confirmed the woman remained in a “critical but stable condition” in hospital and was still “very poorly and unable to speak” to police.

A manhunt to find him has been ongoing for more than a week, with officers raiding two addresses linked to Ezedi in Newcastle in the early hours of Thursday.

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.

A tribunal judge is understood to have ruled in favour of his asylum claim in 2020 after a retired Baptist church minister confirmed he had converted to Christianity, reportedly describing Ezedi as “wholly committed” to his new religion.

Ezedi, who is not the father of the children who were hurt, suffered significant facial injuries in the incident which police previously said could prove fatal if left untreated.

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