A 22-year-old who “crossed a line of human behaviour” when he threw half a litre of sulphuric acid into the face of a man he grew up with, was jailed for eight years and four months today.
Slough man Ibrahim Khan had fallen out with Amar Hussain, who he had known since he was only a young boy, a judge was told.
After two stand-up rows, Khan had plotted to take revenge on the 27-year-old victim, who was playing computer games at a friend’s home, by filling up a Coca Cola bottle with the highest-strength sulphuric acid available and throwing the contents into Mr Hussain’s face.
Judge Paul Dugdale, sentencing Khan, said: “You grew up with Amar Hussain, you would have known each other when you were young boys.
“Sometime in January, you had some sort of a disagreement. We all have disagreements with people, it is how life works. You fall out with people, you try and put things right, if you cannot there it is, you cannot. Sometimes I understand with some people disagreements can tip over into physical violence.
“However, what you did that day, on January 26, was absolutely terrible. It was a truly terrible act for anyone to commit.”
The court heard how Khan, of Hatton Avenue, had an argument with Mr Hussain two days before the acid attack which culminated in the defendant, who was drunk, hurling a brick through a window and the police being called.
Charles Ward-Jackson, prosecuting at Reading Crown Court, told how Khan had called Mr Hussain on January 25 and threatened him, saying: “You got my house raided by the police. I have got a sword. I am going to come and chop you up.”
Mr Ward-Jackson said: “The day of this incident, January 26 at 7.15 in the evening, the victim was visiting a friend, Thomas Allen. There was a knock at the door. The defendant was standing there on the doorstep and asked to speak to Mr Hussain.
“The defendant standing there with what is described as a 500ml bottle of Coca Cola in his hand. Mr Hussain could see that the defendant was not in a friendly mood and tried to retreat and close the door but the defendant threw the contents of the bottle in his face and it went on his face and on his arm and immediately started burning.
“Mr Hussain realised it was acid of some sort and went back inside the house and started frantically washing himself in the bathroom. His friend, Thomas Allen, had gone to the door to see what was going on. The defendant was still spraying acid through the doorway and some of it hit Mr Allen on the arm and on the back of the neck.”
Initially Mr Hussain was taken to Wexham Park Hospital but was transferred to the specialist burns unit at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the prosecutor said, where he was put under general anaesthetic and medics desperately battled to save one of his eyes, the top layer of the retina of which half had been removed when acid got into it.
Surgeons said they believed the eye would recover following treatment, Judge Dugdale was told, but that both victims would have permanent scarring.
Khan handed himself in to Maidenhead police station where he gave a no-comment interview and despite a police raid on his home the bottle he had used in the attack was never found.
The defendant had seven convictions for 15 offences, including causing actual bodily harm, attempted robbery and possession of a knife in 2013 and assault on a constable in 2015.
He had told magistrates he would deny the charges against him but later admitted one count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent (section 18) and one count of causing grievous bodily harm without intent (section 20). A further charge of possessing an offensive weapon was ordered to lie on file.
Defending Khan, Guy Wyatt said: “He feels regret from the bottom of his heart. If he could turn the clock back, he would. He recognises the impact, not only on the victim but the victim’s family and the wider community. He plans to be a better man in future.”
Khan, who was skinny and had short, shaved hair, appeared by video link from HMP Bullingdon for his sentencing hearing at Reading Crown Court, wearing a blue t-shirt.
Judge Dugdale told him: “You knew that Amar Hussain would be at Thomas Allen’s house. You planned to attack him, you got a Coke bottle, half a litre, and in it you put sulphuric acid and you did that intending to throw that into the face of Amar Hussain when you had the opportunity.
“His face will be scarred for the rest of his life because of what you did to him that day and his right eye may well remain at risk of problems into the future.
“It is an act which quite understandably causes members of the public real concern, real worry and anyone who commits that sort of act can expect to receive a very significant custodial sentence both as a punishment and as a need to protect the public from that kind of behaviour in the future.
“When you decide to do that kind of act, you cross a line of human behaviour, you do something which any right-thinking member of the public would find totally awful and once you have done it once, there is always in my view going to be a significant risk that you will do an act like that again.”
The judge jailed Khan for eight years and four months, pointing out that under new legislation the defendant would spend two thirds of his sentence in custody, unlike the half which is usually spent.