Detectives from Hackney are appealing for help to track down a violent robber who punched and robbed heavily pregnant woman who was on her way to hospital to give birth.
Patience Chukwu was making her way to Homerton Hospital at around 9am on Sunday, 26 June, after starting her contractions when she stopped and leaned against a wall in Leadale Road, N16 for support as she was in discomfort.
The 40-year-old had just got her mobile phone out to answer a call from her sister – her birthing partner – when she was suddenly confronted by a man riding a bike who tried to grab the phone. A fierce struggle ensued during which Patience grabbed the back of the thief’s jumper in a bid to stop him – however, she was half dragged along the street behind his bike. Patience pleaded with the male to stop, clearly articulating to him that she was pregnant.
The robber then raised his right arm to swing at Patience’s visibly swollen stomach. In a desperate bid to shield her unborn child she bent forward, resulting in the punch landing hard on her head. She was then punched twice more in the face. Her spectacles crashed to the floor from the impact.
The thief then cycled off along Leadale Road, turning right onto Craven Park Road, heading towards the nearby River. A male passer-by who Patience had called to for help chased him, but the attacker was too quick and managed to flee.
Neighbours from the street rushed to give Patience a chair and water and called police and London Ambulance Service to the scene. Patience, who already has a girl named Kishi, aged four, was rushed to hospital by ambulance. At the hospital it was discovered that her new baby boy had no heartbeat so the birth had to be induced.
Baby Ozil was then kept in a critical care unit for a week before being allowed home – however he now suffers from seizures as a result of the attack.
“This whole incident has upset me more than I can describe,” said Patience. “I already suffered from anxiety before this, and now I am scared whenever a bike goes past me – it’s affecting me living my life.
“I was really looking forward to a happy, healthy birth, and now I cry whenever I see my son jerking in his sleep from the stress that was caused when he was in the womb. I worry every day whether he will be OK.”
The attacker is described as a dark skinned black man, aged about 18-20 years, short, of medium build, with shaven hair and brown eyes. He was wearing a grey hooded top and has a slim face with pronounced cheek bones and rough, pock-marked complexion.
Detective Inspector Paul Ridley, from Hackney CID, said: “Such a violent, unprovoked attack on a busy street in the mid-morning is fortunately rare, but has had devastating consequences for Patience and her son. All the robber got away with was a mobile phone, but the impact his actions have had will last this family a lifetime.
“The man who did this will have family and friends who will know who he is and I would ask those people to come forward and tell us where to find him. He was undoubtedly aware that she was pregnant – to use such violence was appalling and senseless.
“There may also be other people who were in Leadale Road that day who we have not yet spoken to, who may have seen the attack or the suspect getting away on his bike. His escape route is near to the River Lea so people walking their dogs or runners may have seen him fleeing. Please get in touch as your information may well help.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the investigation team on 07795 122 325 or 101 and request Hackney CID. To remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.