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Clapham chemical attack – latest: Two bodies found in search for suspect Ezedi as officers return to Thames

Police are searching the River Thames for the man suspected of carrying out the Clapham chemical attack after two bodies were found in the water.

A police boat circled between Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges on Saturday morning, one day after the Metropolitan Police revealed their belief that Abdul Ezedi, 35, may have jumped or fallen from Chelsea Bridge.

A body was recovered near HMS Belfast just after 10am and another was found around 30 minutes later along the river in Limehouse.

The force said neither of the discoveries are linked to Ezedi and the search efforts resumed at around 10am on Sunday.

Ezedi was last seen on CCTV pacing up and down Chelsea Bridge and leaning over the railings four hours after the attack on January 31.

Detectives say his death is the “most probable outcome”, but officers warned it may take months for a body to be recovered – or it may never be found.

Key points

  • Police launch second day of River Thames search

  • Detectives working on hypothesis that Ezedi fell or jumped into Thames

  • Two bodies found in Thames

  • Suspect’s death is most probable outcome, say police

  • Mother has significant facial injuries that will affect her ‘for rest of life’

Police resume search in Thames

10:10 , Athena Stavrou

Police resumed their search for Abdul Ezedi in the River Thames on Sunday morning as officers believe he fell into the water from Chelsea Bridge.

Search boats were first spotted between Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges on Saturday morning. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police confirmed boats would be back on the river at 10am on Sunday.

Ezedi was last seen on CCTV pacing up and down Chelsea Bridge and leaning over the railings four hours after the attack on January 31.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Two bodies found in Thames

09:09 , Athena Stavrou

Two bodies were found in the River Thames yesterday as the search for Abdul Ezedi in the water continues.

One body was recovered near HMS Belfast just after 10am and another was found around 30 minutes later along the river in Limehouse.

Officers said neither discoveries are linked to Ezedi and the force is working to confirm the identities of the bodies and inform next of kin.

Both deaths are being treated as unexpected.

Fugitive Abdul Ezedi walked past Scotland Yard hours after allegedly throwing chemical

18:00 , Athena Stavrou

The suspect in a chemical attack that left a mother fighting for life appears to have walked right past New Scotland Yard hours later.

Based on CCTV movements released by the force, Abdul Ezedi walked beside the River Thames on a route that looks to have taken him within yards of the Met’s headquarters on the Embankment in central London.

A major manhunt is still underway for the fugitive, with the police now searching in the River Thames for the second day after the last CCTV footage of him shows Ezedi pacing up and down Chelsea Bridge at 11:30pm.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Ezedi’s ‘demeanour’ changed moments before last sighting

17:15 , Athena Stavrou

The Metropolitan Police said Clapham chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi’s “demeanour” appeared to change as he walked over Chelsea Bridge.

In a briefing at Scotland Yard, Commander Jon Savell said: “When he gets to Chelsea Bridge, his demeanour appears to change.

“I would describe him previously as walking sort of purposefully, as if he knew where he was going and he was walking at a reasonable pace.

“As he gets onto Chelsea Bridge, he does cross the bridge more than once.

“And then when he gets back to the centre, he appears to be moving from the railings back to the pavement and looking over the edge of the railings.

“So a distinct change in how he’s been moving about.”

The force searched a stretch of the River Thames near the bridge for the second time today in search boats.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

What relationships does Ezedi have to the victims?

16:30 , Athena Stavrou

Police confirmed Ezedi was in a relationship with the 31-year-old victim and speculated the attack might have been motivated by a breakdown in their relationship.

He is not the father of the children in the attack and was in the capital visiting the mother, police believe. Friends of the victim described her as a “devoted and loving mother”.

Close friends of the victim, who have launched a fundraiser for the family, said: “Our friend is first and foremost a devoted and loving mother.

“Her children are her life. She is generous to a fault and a wonderful cook and host. All she has ever wanted is a safe home for her and her beautiful, kind little girls.”

 (GoFundMe)
(GoFundMe)

What is Abdul Ezedi suspected of?

15:45 , Athena Stavrou

Abdul 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 Wednesday January 31 in Clapham.

The breakdown of the relationship is considered a possible motive for the attack.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed the woman, who has not been identified, remained in a “critical but stable condition” in hospital and was still “very poorly and unable to speak” to police.

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.

Watch: Moment armed police raid pizza takeaway where chemical attack suspect worked

15:00 , Athena Stavrou

This is the moment armed police raid a Newcastle takeaway where Clapham chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi worked.

The Metropolitan Police said the warrants, including one at Ezedi’s place of work, were carried out in the early hours of Thursday.

No arrests were made and police said on Friday that they now believe Ezedi fell into the River Thames around four hours after the attack on January 31.

They searched the area near Chelsea Bridge for the second day on Sunday.

Clapham alkali attack victim ‘a devoted and loving mother’

14:15 , Athena Stavrou

Friends of the woman left severely injured after being doused with a corrosive substance in south London have described her as “a devoted and loving mother”.

The 31-year-old woman may lose the sight in her right eye and remains sedated in hospital after her former partner Abdul Ezedi is suspected of pouring a strong alkali on the woman last Wednesday.

She is still too ill to speak to police and her injuries were so severe the incident is being treated as attempted murder.

In a statement released to the PA news agency, close friends of the victim, who have launched a fundraiser for the family, said: “Our friend is first and foremost a devoted and loving mother.

“Her children are her life. She is generous to a fault and a wonderful cook and host. All she has ever wanted is a safe home for her and her beautiful, kind little girls.”

Police ‘may never find’ Ezedi

13:30 , Athena Stavrou

The Metropolitan Police say they may never find Abdul Ezedi as they begin to search the River Thames for the second day.

Ezedi, 35, was last seen on Chelsea Bridge just before 11:30pm on 31 January, but the Metropolitan Police say that after studying CCTV and bus footage of the area, no cameras captured him leaving, so their main hypothesis is that he went into the water.

In a briefing at Scotland Yard, Commander Jon Savell said: “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.”

 (PA)
(PA)

Timeline of Clapham attacker Abdul Ezedi last known movements

12:40 , Athena Stavrou

7.25pm - The attack takes place in Lessar Avenue.

7.33pm - Ezedi boards a train at Clapham South Tube station.

8.42pm - He is seen on CCTV leaving Tesco at 21 Caledonian Road.

9pm - Ezedi enters King’s Cross Tube station and boards a Victoria Line Tube southbound.

9.33pm - He is seen leaving Tower Hill Underground Station.

10.04pm - He passes the Unilever building and heads towards Victoria Embankment.

10.33pm - Ezedi is seen walking south on Westminster bridge.

10.42pm - Ezedi was seen walking west on south Thames Path towards Lambeth Bridge.

10.55pm - He travels along the Albert Embankment approaching Vauxhall Bridge.

11.03pm - He crosses Vauxhall Bridge Road, into Grosvenor Road.

11.25pm - He crosses over Chelsea Bridge and enters Battersea Park.

11.27pm - He crosses back over Chelsea Bridge towards the north side. This is the last recorded sighting of him.

Former detective explains police underwater search for chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi

11:45 , Athena Stavrou

Former Metropolitan Police detective Nick Aldworth has revealed what the force’s underwater search for chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi involves.

Detectives now believe Ezedi is dead after CCTV showed him learning over railings at Chelsea Bridge on the night of the attack on 31 January.

Ezedi, who went on the run 10 days ago, is believed to have “gone in the water” a few hours after the attack in Clapham.

Police underwater search teams were seen searching the River Thames on Saturday, but have not yet found Ezedi.

Former detective explains underwater search for chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi

What is Ezedi’s history?

10:55 , Athena Stavrou

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.

On Wednesday, a Baptist church in Tyne and Wear confirmed it was aware of a “connection” it had with the suspect.

Police search the Thames for chemical attack fugitive

08:52 , Athena Stavrou

Police are scouring the Thames to find the body of the man suspected of carrying out a chemical attack on a mother in Clapham.

Search boats were spotted between Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges on Saturday morning, one day after the Metropolitan Police revealed their belief that Abdul Ezedi may have jumped or fallen from Chelsea Bridge.

He was last seen on CCTV pacing up and down the bridge and leaning over the railings four hours after the attack on January 31.

There have been reports of two separate bodies found in the river yesterday - but neither are believed to be connected to Ezedi and searches are expected to continue today.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

No updates from Met Police on river search

Saturday 10 February 2024 23:00 , Sam Rkaina

There has been no update from the Met Police this evening despite officers carrying out a search of the River Thames earlier on Saturday.

A police boat circled between Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges, flashing lights and pausing beside a small ship before moving off again. Despite the poor visibility caused by the weather, a crowd gathered to watch the operation.

Detectives believe Ezedi may have gone into the river after being seen on CCTV leaning over the railings of Chelsea Bridge in west London on the night a woman and two young girls were attacked with a corrosive substance in Clapham, south London.

The force said on Friday its main working hypothesis was the 35-year-old had “gone into” the Thames.

However, police admit that Ezedi’s body may never be found due to the speed of the current in the river.

Police boats search the Thames near Chelsea Bridge for alkali attack suspect Abdul Ezedi (PA)
Police boats search the Thames near Chelsea Bridge for alkali attack suspect Abdul Ezedi (PA)

Ezedi seen ‘leaning over railings’ of Chelsea Bridge

Saturday 10 February 2024 22:00 , Athena Stavrou

The Metropolitan Police said Clapham alkali attack suspect Abdul Ezedi was seen to “lean over the railings” of Chelsea Bridge before CCTV sightings of him ceased.

In a briefing at Scotland Yard, Detective Superintendent Rick Sewart said: “We’ve tracked Ezedi’s movements from the Tower Hill area where he alighted the underground and he’s walked over four miles to the location of Chelsea Bridge.

“He’s walked with purpose, but has essentially hugged the Thames River line.

“When he has got to the area of Chelsea Bridge, his behaviour visibly appears to change in so much as he walked up and down the bridge – he pauses in the midpoint of the bridge, halfway down the bridge.

“Then he walked to and from the side of the bridge and can be seen to sort of lean over the railings before there is a loss of sight.”

Mr Sewart added that this was consistent with “him going into the water”.

In pictures: Police begin search of River Thames

Saturday 10 February 2024 19:00 , Athena Stavrou

Police Search Thames For Body Of Suspect In Clapham Chemical Attack (Getty Images)
Police Search Thames For Body Of Suspect In Clapham Chemical Attack (Getty Images)
 (PA)
(PA)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Clapham alkali attack victim ‘a devoted and loving mother’

Saturday 10 February 2024 18:00 , Athena Stavrou

Friends of the woman left severely injured after being doused with a corrosive substance in south London have described her as “a devoted and loving mother”.

The 31-year-old woman may lose the sight in her right eye and remains sedated in hospital after her former partner Abdul Ezedi is suspected of pouring a strong alkali on the woman last Wednesday.

She is still too ill to speak to police and her injuries were so severe the incident is being treated as attempted murder.

In a statement released to the PA news agency, close friends of the victim, who have launched a fundraiser for the family, said: “Our friend is first and foremost a devoted and loving mother.

“Her children are her life. She is generous to a fault and a wonderful cook and host. All she has ever wanted is a safe home for her and her beautiful, kind little girls.”

What is Ezedi’s history?

Saturday 10 February 2024 17:00 , Athena Stavrou

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.

On Wednesday, a Baptist church in Tyne and Wear confirmed it was aware of a “connection” it had with the suspect.

A CCTV image of Abdul Ezedi at King’s Cross underground station (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Wire)
A CCTV image of Abdul Ezedi at King’s Cross underground station (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Wire)

Hundreds of people gave information to detectives

Saturday 10 February 2024 15:15 , Athena Stavrou

Around 500 people across the UK have called police with information about Abdul Ezedi and his possible whereabouts since the incident happened, detectives have revealed.

Commander Jon Savell said at a news briefing on Friday: “We remain immensely grateful to all those who called - the public support for our investigation has been tremendous and I want to thank all those who helped.

“Our thoughts are also with the 31-year-old woman who remains in a critical but stable condition sedated in hospital on her long road to recovery.”

Crowds gather to watch police search Thames for Abdul Ezedi

Saturday 10 February 2024 13:15 , Athena Stavrou

Police have been searching an area of the River Thames in central London for alkali attack suspect Abdul Ezedi.

A police boat circled between Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges, flashing lights and pausing beside a small ship before moving off again on Saturday morning.

Despite the poor visibility caused by the weather, a crowd gathered to watch the operation.

Detectives believe Ezedi may have gone into the river after being seen on CCTV leaning over the railings of Chelsea Bridge in west London on the night a woman and two young girls were attacked with a corrosive substance in Clapham, south London.

The force said on Friday its main working hypothesis was the 35-year-old had “gone into” the Thames.

However, police admit that Ezedi’s body may never be found due to the speed of the current in the river.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Clapham alkali attack victim ‘a devoted and loving mother’

Saturday 10 February 2024 12:30 , Athena Stavrou

Friends of the woman left severely injured after being doused with a corrosive substance in south London have described her as “a devoted and loving mother”.

The 31-year-old woman may lose the sight in her right eye and remains sedated in hospital after her former partner Abdul Ezedi is suspected of pouring a strong alkali on the woman last Wednesday.

She is still too ill to speak to police and her injuries were so severe the incident is being treated as attempted murder.

In a statement released to the PA news agency, close friends of the victim, who have launched a fundraiser for the family, said: “Our friend is first and foremost a devoted and loving mother.

“Her children are her life. She is generous to a fault and a wonderful cook and host. All she has ever wanted is a safe home for her and her beautiful, kind little girls.”

Police ‘may never find' Ezedi

Saturday 10 February 2024 12:00 , Athena Stavrou

The Metropolitan Police say they may never find Abdul Ezedi as they begin to search the River Thames.

Ezedi, 35, was last seen on Chelsea Bridge just before 11:30pm on 31 January, but the Metropolitan Police say that after studying CCTV and bus footage of the area, no cameras captured him leaving, so their main hypothesis is that he went into the water.

In a briefing at Scotland Yard, Commander Jon Savell said: “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.”

 (PA)
(PA)

Pictures: Police search Thames Ezedi

Saturday 10 February 2024 11:22 , Athena Stavrou

Police Search Thames For Body Of Suspect In Clapham Chemical Attack (Getty Images)
Police Search Thames For Body Of Suspect In Clapham Chemical Attack (Getty Images)
 (PA)
(PA)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Police begin searching River Thames

Saturday 10 February 2024 10:50 , Athena Stavrou

The search for Abdul Ezedi in the River Thames began this morning after police revealed yesterday that they believe he may have fallen into the water and died.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that police boat searches had commenced at low tide on Saturday morning near Chelsea Bridge and the surrounding area of the river.

Ezedi, 35, was last seen on Chelsea Bridge just before 11:30pm on 31 January - four hours after a mother was attacked by a strong alkali in Clapham.

The Metropolitan Police say that after studying CCTV and bus footage of the area, no cameras captured him leaving, so their main hypothesis is that he went into the water.

While a has not been found, detectives say his death is the “most probable outcome”. He was seen pacing up and down the bridge - the last known sighting of him - before leaning over the railings.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Timeline of Clapham attacker Abdul Ezedi last known movements

Saturday 10 February 2024 10:21 , Athena Stavrou

7.25pm - The attack takes place in Lessar Avenue.

7.33pm - Ezedi boards a train at Clapham South Tube station.

8.42pm - He is seen on CCTV leaving Tesco at 21 Caledonian Road.

9pm - Ezedi enters King’s Cross Tube station and boards a Victoria Line Tube southbound.

9.33pm - He is seen leaving Tower Hill Underground Station.

10.04pm - He passes the Unilever building and heads towards Victoria Embankment.

10.33pm - Ezedi is seen walking south on Westminster bridge.

10.42pm - Ezedi was seen walking west on south Thames Path towards Lambeth Bridge.

10.55pm - He travels along the Albert Embankment approaching Vauxhall Bridge.

11.03pm - He crosses Vauxhall Bridge Road, into Grosvenor Road.

11.25pm - He crosses over Chelsea Bridge and enters Battersea Park.

11.27pm - He crosses back over Chelsea Bridge towards the north side. This is the last recorded sighting of him.

Ezedi seen ‘leaning over railings’ of Chelsea Bridge

Saturday 10 February 2024 09:50 , Athena Stavrou

The Metropolitan Police said Clapham alkali attack suspect Abdul Ezedi was seen to “lean over the railings” of Chelsea Bridge before CCTV sightings of him ceased.

In a briefing at Scotland Yard, Detective Superintendent Rick Sewart said: “We’ve tracked Ezedi’s movements from the Tower Hill area where he alighted the underground and he’s walked over four miles to the location of Chelsea Bridge.

“He’s walked with purpose, but has essentially hugged the Thames River line.

“When he has got to the area of Chelsea Bridge, his behaviour visibly appears to change in so much as he walked up and down the bridge – he pauses in the midpoint of the bridge, halfway down the bridge.

“Then he walked to and from the side of the bridge and can be seen to sort of lean over the railings before there is a loss of sight.”

Mr Sewart added that this was consistent with “him going into the water”.

Victim of chemical attack ‘unable to speak to police'

Saturday 10 February 2024 09:20 , Athena Stavrou

The Metropolitan Police said the victim of the Clapham alkali attack is “very poorly and unable to speak to police”.

In a briefing at Scotland Yard, Commander Jon Savell said: “Our thoughts obviously still remain with our victim who still is very poorly and unable to speak to police.”

Earlier this week, a fundraiser launched on GoFundMe to support the family has so far raised thousands of pounds.

Friends of the woman have described her as “a devoted and loving mother”. The group said the victim was “a wonderful cook and host” and praised her neighbours for being “angels” by helping in the aftermath of the attack.

Police to search Thames

Saturday 10 February 2024 08:50 , Athena Stavrou

The Metropolitan Police said searches of the River Thames will be carried out for Clapham alkali attack suspect Abdul Ezedi.

In a briefing at Scotland Yard, Commander Jon Savell said: “Our marine support unit will be carrying out some searches of the Thames.

“But as you can imagine, at this time of year the Thames is very fast flowing. And our expertise, and the experts from the oceanography departments that are supporting us, would indicate that it may be some time if someone has gone in the water at this time of year for a person to surface.

“And sadly, they may never actually be found.”

He added that police were in contact with a member of Ezedi’s family to “break that news”.

Commander Savell added: “Obviously, that will be shocking news for them and they will I imagine be naturally very anxious about what Ezedi is alleged to have done and what may have happened to him.”

Clapham suspect’s previous sexual offences

Saturday 10 February 2024 08:05 , Athena Stavrou

Abdul Ezedi was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018.

He avoided jail after pleading guilty to charges of sexual assault and exposure, instead being placed on the sex offender register for 10 years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work when he was handed a suspended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court on January 9 of that year.

Ezedi was accused of grabbing the bottom of a woman without her consent in 2017, as well as committing a sex act that same year, according to documents detailing the indictment which were disclosed by the court to the PA news agency on Tuesday.

 (PA)
(PA)

Ezedi paced up and down bridge before vanishing

Saturday 10 February 2024 07:15 , Athena Stavrou

Detective superintendent Rick Sewart said Clapham chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi’s behaviour on the bridge has led them to believe he may have entered the water.

He was seen pacing up and down the bridge before leaning over the railings.

Afterwards, cameras lost sight of the suspect.

“We have tracked Exedi’s movements from the Tower Hill area where he alighted the underground and he’s walked four miles to the location of Chelsea Bridge,” said Mr Sewart.

“He’s walked with purpose but he’s essentially hugged the Thames river line and when he has got to the area of Chelsea Bridge, his behaviour visibly appears to change in so much as he walks up and down the bridge.

“He pauses halfway down the bridge and he walks to and from the side of the bridge and can be seen leaning over the railings before there is a loss of sight.”

 (PA)
(PA)