Man left fighting for life after attack in Didcot sparks chemical alert

Emergency services put on protective clothing at Park Close in Didcot

Fire crews and other emergency services at the scene of the incident in Park Close, Didcot. Pictures: Denis Kennedy, Vagner Vidal

Fire crews and other emergency services at the scene of the incident in Park Close, Didcot. Pictures: Denis Kennedy, Vagner Vidal

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Health reporter, also covering Kidlington. Call me on 01865 425271

A MAN was last night fighting for his life after an attack which sparked a major chemical alert.

The 50-year-old was found inside a home in Park Close, Didcot, with a serious head injury yesterday.

A resident at the rented semi-detached house alerted the ambulance service who called the police at about 6.20am.

But officers and paramedics alerted the fire service after noticing a “strong smell of a substance, believed to be petrol” inside the house, police said.

The road was closed at both ends as a fleet of fire, ambulance and police vehicles attended the scene.

Five fire engines, three ambulances and about five police vehicles attended the scene.

Local resident Kevin Brown, 52, said: “I was shocked, it looked like a bit of a training exercise to me. “I am quite shocked and horrified because it is quiet, nice and close-knit around here.”

Three fire support vehicles were also sent.

Residents said they were at first told not to leave their homes, although none were evacuated.

But the road had reopened at one end by midday after fire chiefs gave police forensic teams the all-clear to investigate.

Police and fire crews were still investigating the cause of the smell at the time of going to press last night. No arrests have been made.

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Det Insp John Turner, of Abingdon CID, said officers had yet to establish how the injuries were caused.

He said: “There were concerns that there may be some petrol or other chemicals within the place.

“The fire service carried out an assessment and there is no threat to the public at large.”

He added the response was so large because emergency crews initially did not know what they were dealing with.

About five people live at the shared house, he said, adding: “It’s an isolated incident.”

The electoral register lists Robbie Sinclair, a man in his early 50s, as living at the property.

Park Close residents said they were shocked by the incident. Mum-of-two Becky Gilder, 34, said she heard an argument at about 2.45am at the top of the street.

She said: “I looked out in the morning and realised there was police and ambulances and fire engines. I thought ‘what on earth is going on?’

“We don’t get a lot happening down this road, I have to say. It is normally just a few drunks walking up and down – nothing like this.”

Amanda Saunders, 30, said she was asked by emergency crews to shut her windows when the alert was raised.

She said: “I heard a lot of fighting and swearing at the top of the street about seven weeks ago.

“I was really surprised to see what had happened today,” she added.

And Gordon Bishops, of Norreys Road, opposite the house, said: “It is a surprise, it is usually very peaceful and quiet.”

Last night the victim was still in a critical condition in Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital .

Police were unable to say whether a weapon was used or what type of head injuries the victim sustained.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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