- Written by Natasha Brisky and Sam Hancock
- BBC News
Police will search the River Thames for the body of Abdul Shakur Yazidi, a suspect in the Clapham chemical attack.
Investigators believe the 35-year-old fell into the water near Chelsea Bridge in west London on the night of the attack, after walking “with purpose” for hours.
Police said surveillance camera footage shows him walking and leaning on the bridge before disappearing from sight.
It is suspected that a Yazidi poured an alkali on a mother and her daughters on the night of January 31.
He was last seen at 23:27 GMT, on Chelsea Bridge, about four hours after the attack in Clapham, south London. He was never seen leaving the bridge area.
At a press conference on Friday, Metropolitan Police officers said the search on the River Thames would involve boats from the Marine Police Unit and would take place at low tide.
They warned that at this time of year the Thames was flowing very quickly and full of obstacles, and that the Yazidi body would likely never appear.
Speaking at Scotland Yard, Commander John Savile said officers had spent the past 24 hours “meticulously” following CCTV and their “main hypothesis” was that the Yazidi had gone into the water.
He added: “We looked at all available cameras and angles, and with the help of Transport for London and surveillance cameras from buses that were traveling over the bridge at the right time, we did not see him leaving the bridge.” He said.
Commander Savile said a naval support unit would be “carrying out some searches on the River Thames” in the area where he was last seen.
He told reporters it could take “some time… for the person to show up, and unfortunately, they may never be found.”
Commander Savile added that the police had been in contact with a Yazidi family member “to announce this news.”
Detective Rick Siwart, who also attended the news conference, said death was the “most likely outcome” if a Yazidi went into the water.
The development came days after police said they believed the Yazidi was “receiving help from others” to avoid arrest, and that their investigations were targeting “more Yazidi associates” after one man was arrested on suspicion of helping one of the perpetrators. He was later released on bail.
Searches have been continuing for more than a week, as police carried out raids in the Newcastle area on properties linked to Yazidis on Thursday.
The Yazidi, originally from Afghanistan, is believed to have arrived in the UK by lorry in 2016 – the same year he made his first unsuccessful 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 in the attack, which occurred on Lesser Avenue at around 19:25 GMT.
The injured woman is still sedated in hospital and there are fears that she may lose the sight in one of her eyes. Police said she and the Yazidi had a relationship that had broken down, and they had arranged to meet before the attack.
Her two children, aged eight and three, have been released from the hospital.
The suspect, who is not the children's father, suffered serious facial injuries in the attack. The police repeatedly encouraged him to seek medical care.
His asylum application was rejected twice before he successfully appealed against the Home Office claiming he had converted to Christianity.
A Yazidi was convicted of two sexual offenses in 2018, but was allowed to remain in the UK because his crimes did not amount to deportation.
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