Barry Defalco, joint managing director of south London firm T Clarke, attacked by man as he went into work

The head of a leading M&E company, Barry Defalco, was stabbed in the chest last week outside the headquarters of his firm in south London.

Defalco, 49, who is joint managing director of T Clarke, an electrical company, was attacked at the entrance to his office in Walworth Road, near Elephant & Castle, as he went into work at 6.40am on Thursday.

Defalco was taken to the south London hospital but has now been discharged. He was not at work this week.

Detective sergeant Bernie Cresswell, who is in charge of the inquiry, said: “We will await the results of our forensic tests, which will determine the angle in which the knife went in and the pressure put on the knife. But obviously as it was in his chest we are treating it as a very serious incident.”

Cresswell said that the details of the man who attacked Defalco were sketchy; all that was known was that he was white and of stocky build.

He added that the attacker had appeared quite suddenly and that it was not known in which direction he went when he left the scene.

The motive for the attack is unclear as nothing was stolen. Attempted murder has not been ruled out.

It is possible the attack might have been carried out by somebody with a grudge against Defalco but Cresswell noted that it could also have been a random attack by someone with a mental illness.

Cresswell said that staff at T Clarke would probably be questioned in attempt to find clues. He said it was possible that the attack had been committed by someone linked to a disgruntled former employee.

Obviously as the stab wound was to his chest we are treating it as a very serious incident

Det sgt Bernie Cresswell

T Clarke has made about 100 redundancies in the past year.

The firm is now undertaking a review of security and it is understood it will be increase the amount of CCTV coverage.

A union source said that T Clarke was an excellent employer. He said: “T Clarke has about 600 direct employees and for an M&E firm this is superb: normally staff are used on a temporary jobbing basis.

“However there were about 100 redundancies in January last year, and some staff have appealed to employment tribunals.”

Cresswell said: “I am hoping that, on such a busy street, someone may have seen the attacker, either near the premises or in the area. It’s possible he would appear agitated.”

A T Clarke insider said although Defalco was off work he was a “very robust character … determined to make a speedy recovery.”

The insider said: “I think that Barry was hoping to be back into the office on Thursday to attend the company's board meeting.”

According to the inside source the news of the attack had shaken employees and they were each reviewing their personal security.