A top City executive survived being knifed “near the heart” during a car jack horror yards from Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, and is now recovering well after the attack.
Eric Salama, 57, chief executive of the Kantar market research group, was stabbed by a suspected car thief armed with an “enormous” knife in the leafy west London suburb on Sunday morning.
Father-of-two Mr Salama, who is also governor of Birkbeck College, part of London University, found the suspect sat in the driver’s seat of his parked car after he had stopped off for a coffee near the world famous Botanical Gardens.
Shocked staff at the cafe who served him minutes earlier said Mr Salama, who lives alone in a £2 million house in the leafy suburb, told how he crawled back there to raise the alarm.
His Linkedin page states ‘chief executive officer at Kantar Group.
Staff at Cafe Torelli confirmed that Mr Salama was stabbed outside the premises.
They said he bought a coffee and spoke to staff for five minutes at around 7.50am on Sunday.
But when he walked back to his racy Ford Focus RS he found a man sat in the driver’s seat and challenged him.
Mr Salama – described as ‘a well educated, kind man’ – was knifed in the chest and had to crawl to the cafe to raise the alarm.
Shop owner Fasink Nizri, 39, said: “It happened in a matter of minutes – I saw blood, there was screaming.
“Eric is a decent man and has no problems with anybody.
“The person tried to steal his car; he asked ‘what are you doing?’
“He was stabbed just near his heart, it was very bad – the knife was enormous – he was hit so hard that the knife it bent.
“Our staff managed to stem the bleeding, then we called his son and an ambulance, it was terrible, terrible.
“The man that did this was trying to steal his car, it was a carjacking. Eric was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Mr Neziri added: “It was very unexpected.
“I’ve been here for the past 10 years and I never experienced anything like that before
“The first time, but the next time it could be us, it could be me, and it could be anyone – we have to keep our eyes open now.”
Gino Gashi, 40, a barista at the cafe, said they’s heard that Mr Salama was ‘doing alright’ in hospital following the attack.
He said: “I was talking with him just minutes before – he was talking about the Chelsea and Arsenal game.
“We’ve heard from the son, he called a few hours after the attack and confirmed that Eric is doing alright.
“He was not doing anything wrong, he is educated, a kind man – and works in the City – this was a random attack.”
A local resident, 42, said that he heard screaming just before 8am – before ‘five police cars arrived’ and cordoned off the scene.
Another neighbour, in her sixties, said she saw a figure dressed in black running away from the scene at 7.55am.
She said: “We’ve been forgotten, there are never any police on patrol. We’ve even considered getting a private police force here.”
Shocked neighbours described Mr Salama as a ‘private and hard working man’ – who often leaves the country on business.
One, who asked not to be named, said he is ‘so notable in his industry’.
She said: “I haven’t seen Eric in some time, but he is a hardworking man and he’s always travelling somewhere.
“When I do see him, he’s coming back from a business trip – he might say ‘hello’ – but that’s about it really.
“He comes and he goes, he will stop and say ‘hi’.
“I usually see his black Ford parked outside.”
She added: “When I heard what happened, I thought, ‘blimey’.
“He lives on his own, but he has two sons that come and visit.”
Mr Salama is a Consultant of the Government on the questions of education, industry, creation and e-business.
He has been CEO of The Kantar Group since April 2007.
Mr Salama also serves as a Trustee of the British Museum and The Horse’s Mouth Foundation.
He graduated from Trinity College,f Oxford, and Birkbeck College of London.
Police confirmed that a knife had been recovered at the scene.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police were called to Royal Parade in Kew at 7.54am on Sunday following reports of a stabbing.
“Officers and the London Ambulance Service attended and found a man with a stab injury.
“The 57-year-old man was taken to a hospital. His injuries are neither life-changing nor life-threatening. There are no other reported injuries.
“At this early stage, the motive remains unclear.
“A knife was recovered at the scene. No arrests have been made. Enquiries continue by South-West Command Unit.”
By Daniel Hammond