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03 August 2017

Innocent dad-of-one who lost 90% of his face in horror acid attack when thug knocked on the wrong house says law must be changed as his attacker faces release after just EIGHT years

AN INNOCENT dad-of-one who lost 90 per cent of his face in a horror acid attack has called for the law to be changed as his attacker faces release after just EIGHT years in jail.

Andreas Christopheros, 32 was attacked in his home after after a thug knocked on the wrong door.

Andreas Christopheros lost 90 per cent of his face in a horror acid attack
Reuters

Andreas Christopheros lost 90 per cent of his face in a horror acid attack[/caption]

Mr Christopheros pictured on his wedding day before a thug flung acid in his face
Reuters

Mr Christopheros pictured on his wedding day before a thug flung acid in his face[/caption]

David Phillips pleaded guilty to the acid attack that scarred a dad-of-one for life
David Phillips pleaded guilty to the acid attack that scarred a dad-of-one for life
SWNS:South West News Service

On appeal his attacker’s sentence has been reduced from life to 16 years, with the possibility of parole after eight.

Mr Christopheros, of Truro, said: “Three judges ended up concluding that life should be lifted from his sentence because he’s deemed not to be a danger to society, which is probably the most baffling part of the whole story.

“It was a planned attack.”

Mr Christopheros continued: “I believe the UK has got its strategy towards this completely wrong.

“I strongly believe that the sentencing for anyone who carries out any form of acid attack, whether their intended victim is injured badly or not, should serve a life sentence, with a minimum term of 20 or more years.”

In December, 2014, Mr Christopheros, who has a four-year-old son, believed a courier bringing Christmas presents was at his door.


Instead a stranger threw a beaker of sulphuric acid in his face, saying: “This is for you, mate.”

His attacker believed he was targeting someone who had sexually assaulted a family member, but knocked on the wrong door.

Mr Christopheros said: “My t-shirt disintegrated from top to bottom, it just rolled away into nothing. The pain was inexplicable.”

He was rushed to hospital where doctors told his wife and mother he may not live through the night. He said he was on “death watch” for weeks because of the risk of infection.

Ninety percent of Christopheros’ face has been reconstructed using skin from other parts of his body, including his scalp and neck.

He has had between 10 and 12 surgeries and will need more.

He has lost his eyelids three times as the scarring on his face contracts, making sleep a constant struggle.

“Not having eyelids has probably been the most torturous thing that I’ve been through,” he said. “You can’t hide from the light. You can’t shut your eyes.”

 Acid attack victim Andreas Christopheros smiles with his son before he was badly injured
Reuters

Acid attack victim Andreas Christopheros smiles with his son before he was badly injured[/caption]

Mr Christopheros was attacked in a case of mistaken identity
Reuters

Mr Christopheros was attacked in a case of mistaken identity[/caption]

After pleading guilty, his attacker was initially sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of eight years, but this was reduced on appeal.

An online search reveals multiple websites selling 96 percent sulphuric acid, which Mr Christopheros’ attacker, David Phillips, used.

One litre can be bought for less than £15.

“A litre would be enough to destroy a dozen people’s lives, maybe more. Anyone can buy that,” Mr Christopheros said.

Mr Christopheros is not the only one calling for changes to the law.

After a recent spate of attacks, including one in June in which two cousins were doused with acid through a car window as they were out celebrating a birthday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced a review.

There have been several acid attacks in London since, from robberies to gang-related violence – including five attacks on delivery drivers in just one evening.

The Home Office said it planned to set out guidance for prosecutors on classifying corrosive substances as dangerous weapons and to review sentencing guidelines.

“Other key actions will include a review of the Poisons Act to assess whether it should cover more acids and harmful substances and further work with retailers to agree measures to restrict the sales of acids and other corrosive substances,” said Sarah Newton, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability.

Crimes using corrosive substances in London jumped in 2016 to 431 from 261 in 2015, Metropolitan Police numbers show. So far this year, there have been 282.

There is no clear explanation for the rise, but it coincides with a crackdown on weapons including the “two strikes” rule requiring a mandatory minimum sentence of six months for people convicted of carrying a knife for the second time.

Acid attack victim Andreas Christopheros pictured on his honeymoon
Acid attack victim Andreas Christopheros pictured on his honeymoon
Reuters
How you should treat an acid attack victim until emergency services arrive

Jaf Shah, executive director of London-based non-profit Acid Survivors Trust International, described a “loophole” in the law whereby people possessing acid would not be charged but those carrying a gun or a knife could.

“There just aren’t appropriate levels of controls around acid,” Shah said. “If you are caught with acid, police have to prove intent, which is very difficult.”

Injuries suffered by victims of attacks using corrosive substances can require hundreds of surgeries and years of recovery, plastics surgeons who have worked on British acid attack survivors said.

Even after extensive treatments, victims typically have scars for the rest of their lives.

“Sometimes people never recover if they have lifelong disfigurement and deformity,” said Professor Peter Dziewulski, spokesman for the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons.

He has treated 20 patients in 2017.


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