A teenager is facing multiple charges in connection to five linked acid attacks in north and east London earlier this week, police said today.
Authorities charged a 16-year-old male on Saturday evening with 15 offenses, including multiple counts of robbery and grievous bodily harm (GBH), according to London’s Metropolitan Police. The teen was arrested Friday after he was identified near the scene of the attacks, which took place on Thursday, in surveillance video.
The suspect has been remanded in custody and will appear before Stratford Youth Court on Monday.
A 15-year-old male was also arrested at an address in the Stoke Newington neighborhood of north London on Friday morning, also on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and robbery, police said. He was released on bail Saturday morning until a date in early August, according to the Met Police, who have not publicly identified either suspect by name.
The 16-year-old faces three counts of robbery, four counts of attempted robbery, one count of possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance, five counts of attempted GBH with intent, one count of GBH with intent and one count of handling stolen goods.
The attacks were reported to police over a 72-minute period, with four taking place in the eastern borough of Hackney and one in the northern borough of Islington. All five victims were transported to hospitals, with one man sustaining life-changing facial injuries, according to the Met Police. Ben Clark, chief inspector for the Metropolitan Police in the borough of Hackney, said all five victims were riding mopeds at the time of the attacks, but they come from a "variety of backgrounds."
"These are hideous offences and must have been very frightening for all of the victims," he said.
The first incident, which occurred at the junction of Hackney Road and Queensbridge Road, was reported to police at 10:25 p.m. local time. Responding officers found a 32-year-old man suffering from non-life-changing facial injuries. The victim was on a moped when another moped carrying two male riders pulled up alongside him. They threw a corrosive liquid in his face and one of them stole his vehicle before driving off together, police said.
At 10:49 p.m. local time, police were called to St. Paul's Road where a 44-year-old man riding a moped had a corrosive substance thrown in his face by two males, also on a moped. The victim was taken to a hospital and authorities are awaiting an update on his condition, according to police.
At 11:05 p.m. local time, police received a call about two males on a moped throwing a corrosive liquid in another man's face on Shoreditch High Street. The 52-year-old victim was taken to the hospital with facial injuries believed to be non-life-threatening.
A similar incident on Cazenove Road near the junction with Upper Clapton Road was reported to police at 11:18 p.m. Responding officers found a 24-year-old man there suffering from what police said were described as "life-changing" facial injuries.
At 11:37 p.m. local time, a 33-year-old man reported to police that he was on his moped in traffic on Chatsworth Road when two males on another moped pulled alongside him and sprayed a corrosive liquid in his face. They then stole his moped and fled the scene. The victim managed to make his way home before contacting police. He was taken to a hospital and authorities are awaiting an update on his condition, according to police. Police on Friday urged the public to be vigilant about anyone who may be carrying dangerous corrosives.
"Of late we have seen more attacks using corrosive substances in London," Clark said in a statement Friday. "I would urge businesses and parents to challenge those who they think may be trying to obtain or carry these substances as this could help prevent serious offences and life changing injuries being caused."