A Victoria’s Secret shop assistant was scarred for life when a mysterious figure wearing a niqab threw acid in her face as she walked home from work.
Naomi Oni, 20, was left with severe burns on her head, neck, arms,
legs and body after she was attacked in Dagenham, east London.
She has spent the past month having skin grafts and almost went
blind, although she has now recovered her vision in her left eye and has
partial sight in her right.
Her attacker was dressed like a Muslim woman in a niqab, so Ms Oni
could not see their face. Police have no idea who was responsible for
the vicious attack, or why they did it.The shop assistant – who is sole carer for her disabled mother Marian
Yalekhue, 52 – was making the five-minute journey back to their flat
from the bus stop when she heard someone behind her.
She had just finished a late shift at the Westfield Stratford store
and was on the phone to her boyfriend Ato Owede, 23, at 12.40am.
‘I’d been working a late shift and was talking to my boyfriend about
what we were going to do for New Year when I saw this Muslim woman
wearing a niqab covering her face,’ she told the Evening Standard.
‘I thought it was a bit strange at that time of night, but she didn’t say anything and I kept on walking.
‘Then I felt a splash on my face. It burned and I screamed out. I
started running and screaming, holding my face, all the way home. I
didn’t look back.
‘I got home and I was screaming and banging on the door. I was
hysterical. Luckily my godmother, who is a pharmacist, was at home with
my mum and she helped me and kept dipping my face in water and trying to
calm me down until the police and ambulance got there.
‘I was in shock. Saying: “Who would do that? Who would do that?” How could anyone do this?’.
She has released the shocking images of her disfigured face in an
appeal for help to catch the attacker whose identity was concealed
behind the Muslim women’s dress which completely covers the face apart
from the eyes.
Ms Oni decided to speak out after police failed to establish any motive behind the December 30 attack or identify a suspect.
She said the attack had ‘destroyed’ her life and left her too afraid to venture out or even show her face in public.
‘I look in the mirror and it just isn’t me. I’ll never look the same
again,’ she said. ‘I’ve always been outgoing and confident in my job and
in my personal life, used to getting attention for the way I dress or
my hair, but now I don’t want anyone looking at me.
‘I don’t want people to see me in public. I don’t want to get the
Tube or the bus. If I have to go to the hospital I take a taxi.
‘I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to my job. I was
planning to go to college in September to study media and fashion, but I
don’t even know if I’ll be able to do that.’
The store assistant has been told she faces months if not years of
skin grafts and further plastic surgery and even then is likely to be
left with severe facial scarring.She and her mother say they are too afraid to go back to their
council flat in Dagenham. They are currently sleeping on a friend’s
sofa-bed after turning down the offer to be rehoused in Tottenham on
Ms Oni said she had been inspired by the story of Katie Piper, the
model who launched a charity and spoke out publicly after falling victim
to an acid attack orchestrated by her boyfriend, but that she would
never feel safe with her attacker still at large.
‘Even with the support of my family and friends and boyfriend I feel
very alone,’ she said. ‘Nothing is going to be same anymore.’
A Scotland Yard spokesman said acid attacks were ‘extremely rare’ and
that detectives were keeping an ‘open mind as to the motive.’