Man admits manslaughter of care home nurse unwittingly caught up in drugs dispute

A 19-year-old man has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of a woman who was splashed with acid from head to toe as she was unwittingly caught up in a drugs dispute.

Joanne Rand, a nurse who worked at the Sir Aubrey Ward care home in Marlow, had been to visit her daughter’s grave and was about to have a cigarette when she was hit with the high-strength sulphuric acid last June.

She screamed in pain and ran to a nearby branch of KFC to splash water over herself after the incident in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. She died 11 days later.

Xeneral Webster had been accused at Reading Crown Court of the murder of Ms Rand (pictured) but mid-trial he pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of her manslaughter, according to a court spokesman.

He also pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing an offensive weapon, namely bottles of acid and ammonia, and acid, and a fourth charge of affray.

His pleas of not guilty to murder, robbery and attempted grievous bodily harm were accepted by the prosecution and the case was adjourned for sentencing on June 15.

Webster, of Banstead Court, Westway, west London, will also be sentenced on that date for charges of threatening to kill, possessing an offensive weapon and damaging property in relation to a separate incident to which he had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

The court heard that Ms Rand was treated and briefly released from hospital after suffering up to 5% burns on her body in the High Wycombe incident.

But she died 11 days later, on June 14, from multiple organ failure after being contracting septicaemia due to the acid burns.

Prosecutor Alison Hunter QC told the court that Webster had been in a dispute in Frogmoor with another male, Saqib Hussain, from whom he was trying to wrest a bicycle.

Ms Hunter said CCTV footage showed Webster reaching into his satchel for a bottle of acid.

She said: “What he produced next is an open-topped bottle of acid and he makes to throw it towards Mr Hussain. And he said to Mr Hussain ‘This is acid’.

“At this moment, Mr Hussain, panicking, knocks the acid out of Mr Webster’s hand.”

The bottle rolled and hit Ms Rand, who was sitting a few metres away, Ms Hunter told the court.

She “instantly noticed that her hair was wet and that her face had begun to burn”, she added.

The prosecutor said Webster knew the consequences of having acid in a public place, having been the victim of an acid attack himself.

She added that the defendant said the altercation had started because he had been sold spice instead of cannabis.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Glister, of Thames Valley Police, said: “Webster showed a total disregard for the innocent members of the public who were present that day and his actions took a much loved mum, sister, and partner away from her many family and friends.

“Acid attacks are horrific. Their consequences devastate lives. I hope this case is a pertinent reminder to anyone considering carrying this dangerous substance that doing so can have very serious consequences.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Thames Valley Police / PA Wire.