Hackney Road acid attack: ‘They were pouring huge bottles of water over his head’

PUBLISHED: 08:35 14 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:54 19 July 2017

Screen grab from a handout video taken in Hackney after one of the five acid attacks last night. Picture: @moodiman/PA Wire

Screen grab from a handout video taken in Hackney after one of the five acid attacks last night. Picture: @moodiman/PA Wire


A witness to last night’s Haggerston acid attack said police were pouring “huge five-litre bottles of water over his head”.

As reported by the Gazette this morning, the 32-year-old victim is believed to have been a moped food delivery driver. He was attacked near Hackney Road’s junction with Queensbridge Road.

Another moped, with two male riders, pulled up alongside him. The males threw a corrosive substance in the victim’s face, with one stealing his vehicle and the other making off on the moped they arrived on. The man has been taken to hospital but his injuries are not life threatening or life changing.

Witness Sarah Cobbold, 29, told the Press Association: “It was just outside my flat, the victim was literally stood on my doorstep. I saw some reports that it happened at 10.25pm so by 10.30pm there were a couple of police cars and an ambulance there.

“After about 10 minutes I still saw the flashing and went out on my balcony, looking over the roof to see what is going on. Police had cordoned off the little area around the pavement and there was just a guy standing on my doorway. They were pouring huge, five-litre bottles of water over his head.

“He was standing, he seemed to be OK. After probably about 10 to 15 minutes he managed to walk unaided into the ambulance. I hope that means he is OK – the ambulance certainly didn’t rush off with sirens.”

The scene after the acid attack in Hackney Road on Thursday. Picture: @sarah_cobbold/PA WireThe scene after the acid attack in Hackney Road on Thursday. Picture: @sarah_cobbold/PA Wire

As she watched, around 25 moped riders arrived, many appearing to be from fast-food delivery companies such as UberEats and Deliveroo. “I’m guessing maybe they had heard what happened and came down because they can’t have all been driving round together,” she said.

As first reported in the Gazette last week, Deliveroo drivers in Hackney are being targeted by moped crooks in a terrifying crimewave. Some workers have been stabbed after standing their ground when the perpetrators, usually aged between 12 and 16, confront them demanding they hand over their wheels.

Drivers share updates with each other over Whatsapp. One worker said 40 out of the 50 drivers in the group now refuse to work after 9.30pm out of fear.

The Hackney Road attack was one of five which took place across Hackney and Islington between 10.25pm and 11.37pm last night. A teenager has been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.

Deliveroo, which chose not to respond to our request for comment last week, hasn’t confirmed how many of last night’s acid attacks targeted its drivers.

But a spokesperson said this morning: “These are truly shocking attacks that have no place in a civilised society. We will work with the authorities in any way we can to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Deliveroo prioritises the safety and wellbeing of all our riders and so we are urgently speaking to our local teams and to the police about how we can work together to stop criminals from targeting scooter riders.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged another Deliveroo driver was targeted in Hackney last night – in a separate incident to the acid attacks.

Jim Waterson, the political editor of BuzzFeed, told the Gazette this morning: “I’d ordered a takeaway from a restaurant on Green Lanes to Finsbury Park. The app showed the driver heading east – the wrong direction – after picking up food then stopped.

“At around 9.55pm Deliveroo’s call centre got in touch to say the driver had been attacked by moped thieves. I tried to get reassurance the driver was OK and Deliveroo confirmed they were helping him and ensuring the incident was reported to police.

“It’s incredibly grim for someone to get attacked while doing their job and I just hope the driver involved is OK.”

A Deliveroo driver this afternoon told the Gazette in Shoreditch High Street, the scene of the second acid attack: “Obviously it’s pretty scary and I’m not sure how I feel about coming round here any more at night.

“Driving a moped is kind of risky anyway without having to worry about things like this. I’m going to have to think about maybe using a normal, cheap bike so I’m less of a target.”

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