‘Hero driver tried to save knife victim’

Petitioners back man’s intervention in ‘shocking’ Maida Vale attack

Friday, 28th January — By Tom Foot

Yasmin Chkaifi

Victim: Yasmin Chkaifi

ALMOST 30,000 people have signed a petition in support of a driver arrested on suspicion of murder after running over a knifeman who witnesses said was stabbing a woman to death in Maida Vale.

The 26-year-old man, who has been hailed a hero, has said he attempted to stop the shocking attack in Chippenham Road on Monday morning.

It has emerged an arrest warrant had been issued for the knifeman, Leon McCaskre, 41, after a stalking protection order had been breached.

The woman, Yasmin Chkaifi, 43, had previously warned she was in danger.

A vigil was held in Maida Vale on Wednesday evening, where her family asked for time to grieve.

A statement from the driver, read out by his lawyers on Wednesday, said: “I was waiting in traffic and I witnessed a man repeatedly stabbing a defenceless woman on the pavement. The public was attempting to intervene. The man was wielding a knife. I drove my vehicle toward the attacker. I did not intend to harm the attacker. I am a person of good character. I have never been arrested. I do not see why I, as the person who tried to assist in the defence of other human beings, remain arrested.”

The statement added: “I am deeply sorry that the man I tried to stop from attacking other people has died.”

Ms Chkaifi, a qualified childminder, was studying for a masters degree at the time of her death.

She became the latest woman to meet a violent death at the hands of a man and follows a nationwide campaign for women’s safety in the wake of killings of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

The police role will be investigated by the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Cindy Chan, who set up the petition, said: “He does not deserve a prison sentence. He acted to stop this horror.

“He must be in complete shock by seeing this stabbing. He tried to protect the woman.”

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Rawlinson urged the public not to speculate about what had happened while adding “very courageous” bystanders had “bravely tried to intervene”.

He said: “We are gaining a clearer idea of what happened at the scene thanks to information supplied by the public and by reviewing CCTV. Firstly, it is apparent that members of the public bravely tried to intervene to stop the attack and their actions were very courageous. We are speaking to the families of those concerned and doing all we can to support them at this terrible time. We can now confirm that both the deceased were previously known to each other and there are no outstanding suspects.

“A man, who was the driver of a car, has been arrested and bailed for a very serious offence and we must carry out a full investigation, looking at all the circumstances. I would ask the media not to speculate on the causes of the deaths while we are awaiting the outcome of two post-mortems, it is important that we deal with facts.

“Lastly we appreciate the support we have received from the public.”

A number of people have already come forward, but we are still asking for anyone who has not to make contact with us. Any information could be vital in helping us fully understand why this dreadful incident happened.”

He said the driver was fully co-operative with the investigation and has been bailed to return to a police station in late February while evidence is evaluated.

A post-mortem took place yesterday (Thursday).

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