Two male bodies have been recovered from the River Thames as police search for a suspect who severely injured a “vulnerable” woman and her two young daughters in a chemical assault.
Neither body was identified as that of Abdul Ezedi, who has been on the run since the attack on 31 January in Clapham, south London. He was last seen walking “with purpose” to Chelsea Bridge in west London and was captured on CCTV leaning over the railings of the bridge on the night of the attack.
After that, there was a visible change in his behaviour, resulting in a “loss of sight”, with no further CCTV footage of him coming off the bridge.
The bodies of two men were pulled from the river on Saturday, and both deaths are being treated by police as “unexpected pending further inquiries”.
It is understood they were found not as a direct result of the search operation for 35-year-old Ezedi.
While police are still calling for Ezedi to hand himself in and appealing to the public to call 999 if they see him, they now say it is likely that Ezedi – who was wounded in the attack, with “significant injuries to the right side of his face” – has died.
Asked whether police were prepared to say that Ezedi was dead, Det Supt Rick 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 is accused of pouring a corrosive alkaline substance on a 31-year-old woman, who was known to Ezedi, and her two children, aged three and eight.
The woman remains in a “critical but stable condition” in hospital, “very poorly and unable to speak”, police said. She may lose the sight in her right eye. Her children were also hurt in the attack.
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.
Speaking about the river search for Ezedi, Jon Savell, a commander at Scotland Yard, 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.”