Police are treating an acid attack on an aspiring model and her cousin in Beckton as a hate crime.
Resham Khan was celebrating her 21st birthday with her cousin, Jameel Muhktar, 37, when a man sprayed a corrosive substance through the windows of their car as they sat in traffic in Tollgate Road.
The car drove away and was chased by the attacker until it crashed into a fence and the suspect fled.
Officers originally said there was nothing to suggest the attack was racially or religiously motivated, but have subsequently revealed they are treating it as a hate crime after fresh information came to light.
Both victims suffered life-changing burn injuries in the attack and Resham has spoken about the “excruciating pain” and the horror of watching her clothes burn away in front of her eyes.
Police were called at 9.15am on Wednesday, June 21, but the victims had already been taken to hospital by members of the public when they arrived.
A Go Fund Me page set up to support Resham and Jameel has already raised over £52,000.
Police are searching for John Tomlin, 24, in connection with the attack.
Tomlin is known to frequent the Canning Town area and is described as white, around 6ft tall of stocky build and with fair hair. He has distinctive tear drop tattoos on his face.
Acting Detective Superintendent Neil Matthews of Newham police said: “This investigation continues to move at great pace and my team continues to act on a number of leads to find Tomlin.
“I would also appeal directly to Tomlin to make contact with police and hand himself in and would urge anyone who knows of his whereabouts to contact officers.
“We are treating this incident very seriously and, following new information that has come to light, it is now being treated as a hate crime.
“This was a horrendous act of violence with the victims suffering burn-relating injuries which will require long term treatment. We have been in regular contact with them and will continue to offer them support.”
Members of the public are warned not to approach Tomlin but to call 999 immediately if he is seen.
Anyone with information about Tomlin’s whereabouts is asked to call 101. To give information anonymously, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit their website.
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