Father jailed for plotting ‘monstrous’ sulphuric acid attack on his three-year-old son
A father has been jailed for plotting a “monstrous” acid attack on his three-year-old son which left the youngster “scarred for life”.
The parent and five other defendants were all convicted by a jury of conspiring to throw sulphuric acid with intent to “burn, maim or disfigure” the boy on July 21 last year.
In a statement read as the father was jailed for 16 years, the boy’s mother said she feared her estranged husband’s sense of “honour” would drive him to kill her if ever released.
Judge Robert Juckes QC, granting the mother a lifetime restraining order, told the parent he had been “the instigator and planner”.
He had provided “obviously strong acid” for the assault, and was guilty of a “monstrous breach of trust” against his son.
Earlier, the 40-year-old, of Wolverhampton but originally from Afghanistan, had rubbed his face with his hand as he was unanimously convicted by the jury.
A six-week trial at Worcester Crown Court was told the youngster, who cannot be identified due to his age, suffered serious injuries to his face and arm at a Home Bargains store in the city.
The Crown alleged the father, stung by his wife walking out on him in 2016, enlisted others to attack his son – in a bid to win more contact with the child by showing his mother was unfit to care for him.
Giving evidence earlier in the trial, the mother told how he twice threatened to kill her and the children if she ever left him again.
The judge accepted her testimony that the father had once also asked an imam about killing his spouse, after she had previously walked out with the children in 2012.
In her victim impact statement, the woman told how he also once watched a video of a father who killed his daughter, then telling his wife “that’s our culture. They call it honour killing”.
Afterwards, she said: “My son is OK, he’s a happy child, but he’s been scarred for life and will need continuous support.”
Jurors unanimously convicted the father – who cannot be named to protect his son’s identity – on Wednesday, after nine hours, alongside the five other men.
A seventh defendant, Martina Badiova, was cleared of the same charge.
Sentencing, Judge Juckes described the case as “unique”, telling the court he had “never come across a case in which there were so many people involved, targeting a child”.
Among those also found guilty of the conspiracy were “operatives” Adam Cech, 27, of Farnham Road, Birmingham, Jan Dudi, 25, of Cranbrook Road, Birmingham, and Norbert Pulko, 22, of Sutherland Road, London.
All three men were captured on CCTV at the scene of the attack, after following the boy and his mother to the store from their home in a Vauxhall Vectra.
The attack happened at 2.16pm on Saturday July 21, when Cech approached the child and squirted acid at him from a small plastic medicine-type bottle.
Jurors heard how the injured boy repeatedly screamed “I hurt, I hurt” after he was sprayed.
Footage then showed the three men calmly making their escape – Pulko even stopping at the tills to purchase two items.
The attack followed what prosecutors claimed had been an “aborted attack” at a school eight days earlier.
During that incident, Pulko, and Saied Hussini, of Wrottesley Road, London, were seen by eagle-eyed neighbours loitering in the area.
CCTV footage later showed Pulko approaching the child, who was walking with his mother, with an object held in his hand before he veered away without incident.
Pulko and middle-man Jabar Paktia, 42, of New Hampton Road, Wolverhampton, who introduced the father to Hussini, were also convicted of the same charge.
Hussini, who tested the strength of the acid on his arm before the attack, was also found guilty of the same charge and was called a key member of the “organisation of lies”, by the judge.
The 43-year-old was jailed for 14 years for his senior role in the conspiracy.
He had claimed the father had been willing to pay £3,000 to carry out the job, adding Paktia, Hussini and the father all went together to first meet Pulko.
A feature of the trial was the “markedly cut-throat” defences, Judge Juckes said.
Cech claimed in court that he had been threatened with a BB gun by Pulko to squirt the victim and did not know acid was inside the bottle.
When he was convicted, Cech – who had attacked the boy – put his head in his hands and looked at the floor.
The father denied even knowing Pulko, but the judge said he had been “plainly” caught on CCTV meeting and handing over the acid, probably from a car battery, in a pub car park on the day of the attack.
He also claimed to have only hired Hussini and Paktia as “private investigators”, while Dudi alleged he was only there to watch the mother – and no more.
Hussini claimed he only went along with the scheme in a bid to divert the father from the attack – implicating the boy’s parent – but the jury also rejected his account.
Paktia and Pulko – who did not give evidence – along with Cech and Dudi, were described as “actively involved” by the judge and jailed for 12 years each.
The child suffered a 10cm burn injury to his left forearm, and a 3cm burn on his forehead, which needed specialist hospital treatment, but has since made a good recovery.
Sentencing, Judge Juckes said: “Even battle-hardened Crown Court judges were sickened when they heard the news that someone had attacked a three-year-old with sulphuric acid.”
He added: “It became increasingly apparent how well-planned this was, with links going back to the man at the heart of this attack, who was the boy’s own father.”
Judge Juckes said the men then “spent the night in celebration” after the attack, “as though none of you began to appreciate the monstrous thing you had done”.
He said: “It is an extraordinary thing in this case that not one of you, most of whom have no previous convictions, most of whom with families of your own, at any stage stood back and asked the question of yourself and others, ‘What are we doing?’
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture – The moment Adam Cech (bottom left) sprayed a three-year-old boy (blue T-shirt) with acid in an attack in a Home Bargains store in Worcester (c) West Mercia Police / PA Wire.