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Acid attack victim Naomi Oni accuses police of incompetence

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A woman left permanently scarred by an acid attack has accused the Metropolitan police of incompetence in handling her case, after they questioned whether her injuries were self-inflicted.

Naomi Oni described the "pain and backlash" she suffered in the aftermath of the attack in east London in December 2012, in an interview on Radio 4's Today programme.

The 22-year-old's friend Mary Konye was jailed for 12 years last week, after she was found guilty of secretly following Oni and throwing acid in her face.

But Oni claims that officers from Scotland Yard initially accused her of lying and were slow to act on her account of what happened.

"All I've done the whole time is just say what's happened to me and I've been accused of lying," Oni told Today presenter Mishal Husain.

Naomi Oni before the attack

She claimed the police treated her with suspicion because the search history on her computer showed that she had looked up plastic surgery sites and googled the name of Katie Piper, the model and actress who was attacked by acid in 2008, prior to being attacked herself.

But Oni said she had been interested in Piper simply because "it was a moving and touching story".

"If that has been found on my laptop, I don't see what that has to do with someone wearing a veil coming to attack me," she said.

Oni also pointed to CCTV footage used during the trial of her attacker, which clearly showed her wearing a veil and secretly following Oni home from her job at a Victoria's Secret shop in December 2012.

"You can see that what I said is what happened, so where did that accusation [about lying] come from?" Oni said. "We've all seen the CCTV footage. There was a person in a veil following me. Why was this not found in the beginning? Nobody has answers to tell me."

Naomi in hospital in 2012

Oni also claimed that as she lay partially blinded in hospital, undergoing multiple skin grafts and "with my family in pieces", the police were slow to react to her victim report.

"I just felt I got the response that, 'Oh well, we've gone and asked everyone in your area if they saw anything and no-one really seems to be sure,'" she recalled. "I even got told that they watched the CCTV footage and they saw no-one following me."

Oni is permanently scarred on her leg, chest, stomach and arms and has to wear a silicone face mask. She faces more reconstructive surgery in the future.

"I'm at a point in my life where everyone's busy, everyone's getting on with their daily activities and my life isn't so normal at the moment," she said. "I just feel isolated."

Before and after the acid attack

Konye had been a friend of Oni's and her solicitor said that her client's motivation for the attack "would always be shrouded in some doubt and mystery."

"This careful, premeditated criminality was planned against a person who reasonably believed you were a true friend," the judge told Konye, in sentencing her this month. "Her friendship had been so wilfully betrayed by you."

The Metropolitan Police told Radio 4 that they had considered all lines of enquiry in the early stages of their investigation.

"The investigation was detailed and complex and officers had a duty to explore every avenue of enquiry and retain an open mind about the circumstances," it said in a statement.

"The CCTV evidence took some time to collate and analyse but then clearly showed a veiled suspect trailing the victim before the attack. Konye was arrested as the investigation progressed."

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Rex Features

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