Acid attack victim Naomi Oni has lambasted UK police over their handling of her case. Voicing her opinion of the situation via British radio, Oni accused the Metropolitan Police Service of “incompetence” and claimed officers initially concluded that she had carried out the assault on herself. The Met went on record as saying they remained open-minded with regard to who the perpetrator may have been during the primary stages of their investigation.
The attack, which occurred near Oni’s East London home in December 2012, was put to bed just three days ago when 22-year-old Mary Konye was convicted and jailed for 12 years. The two girls had been friends since their early teens, but Konye was driven to commit the crime after Oni labelled her “ugly.” The Newham-born woman then followed her victim home from a Victoria’s Secret shop where she worked, disguised in a veil and armed with a beaker of sulphuric acid. Sometime after the incident, Konye posted an online picture of Nightmare on Elm Street antagonist Freddy Kruger along with the words, “Who looks like Wrong Turn now?”
Wrong Turn is a 2003 horror movie featuring cannibals with disfigured faces, a film the two former school friends would joke about before their relationship turned sour.
Naomi Oni’s criticism of police extended to the fundamental way in which they handled the offence. Her discontent revolves around CCTV footage that depicts a person in a niqab (now assumed to be Mary Konye) trailing her as she left work in a Stratford shopping centre at around 23:30 GMT. The acid attack victim alleges that when police saw these pictures, she was told they couldn’t see anyone following her at all.
“We’ve all seen the CCTV footage. There was a person in a veil following me,” she told Radio 4’s Mishal Husein. “Why was this not found in the beginning?” She continued, “nobody has answers to tell me”.
Lawyers for the defense argued that Oni had thrown the acid over herself in order to gain media publicity, a suggestion fueled by the fact that it was well known among friends she was an admirer of Katie Piper, who was partially blinded in a similar attack in 2008. Piper overcame her traumatic experience and has since enjoyed a thriving career in both writing and as a television presenter, and the idea was put forward that Oni might have wanted to replicate Piper’s achievements.
She says that self-damage was the initial claim made by officers soon after the event, and that she felt as though they were accusing her of lying when she reported what had happened.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police described the examinations carried out as “detailed and complex,” and stressed how those assigned to the case had a duty to explore every avenue of inquiry. While they admitted CCTV images took time to analyze, the statement read that Mary Konye was arrested as the evidence became clear and the investigation progressed. However, acid attack victim Naomi Oni remains adamant that police standards fell well short of satisfactory in the process.
By Zachary John