- By Natasha Preskey and Sam Hancock
- BBC news
Police will search the River Thames for the body of Clapham chemical attack suspect Abdul Shokoor Ezedi.
Detectives believe the 35-year-old entered the water at Chelsea Bridge in west London on the night of the attack after walking “purposefully” for hours.
CCTV footage shows him pacing and leaning across the bridge before disappearing from view, police said.
Ezedi is suspected of dousing a mother and her daughters with an alkaline substance on the night of January 31.
He was last seen at 23:27 GMT, at Chelsea Bridge, about four hours after the attack in Clapham, south London. He was never seen leaving the bridge area.
At a briefing on Friday, Metropolitan Police officers said the search for the Thames would involve Marine Policing Unit boats – and would take place at low tide.
They warned that the Thames was flowing very fast and full of obstacles at this time of year, and that it was possible that Ezedi’s body would never surface.
Speaking at Scotland Yard, Commander Jon Savell said officers had been “closely” monitoring CCTV footage over the past 24 hours and that their “main working hypothesis” was that Ezedi had gone into the water.
“We have looked at all available cameras and angles, with the help of Transport for London and CCTV from buses passing over the bridge at the relevant time, and we did not see him come off the bridge,” he said. said.
Commander Savell said a naval support unit would “conduct some searches of the Thames” in the area where he was last seen.
He told reporters that it “may take some time… for a person to come to the surface and unfortunately that person may never be found.”
Cmdr Savell added that police had been in contact with a member of Ezedi’s family to “break that news”.
Det Supt Rick Sewart said, also during the briefing, that death was the “most likely outcome” if Ezedi had gone into the water.
The development came days after police said they believed Ezedi was “assisted by others” to evade capture, and that their investigation was focusing on “more of Ezedi’s associates” following the arrest of a man on suspicion of aiding a perpetrator. He was later released on bail.
Searches have been going on for more than a week, with police raids carried out in the Newcastle area on properties linked to Ezedi on Thursday.
Ezedi is originally from Afghanistan and is believed to have arrived in Britain by truck in 2016 – the same year he made his first failed asylum claim. He settled in North East England and is believed to have been living in Newcastle at the time of the attack.
He is wanted on suspicion of attempted murder over the attack, which took place in Lesser Avenue at around 19:25 GMT.
The injured woman remains sedated in hospital and there are concerns she may lose sight in one eye. She and Ezedi had a relationship that ended, police said, and they agreed to meet before the attack took place.
Both her children, aged eight and three, have been released from hospital.
The suspect, who is not the father of the children, suffered serious facial injuries in the attack. Police have repeatedly encouraged him to seek medical attention.
His asylum application was rejected twice before he successfully appealed to the Home Office by claiming he had converted to Christianity.
Ezedi was convicted of two sexual offenses in 2018 but was allowed to remain in Britain because his crimes did not meet the threshold for deportation.