Saturday 20 December 2014

Man tells of battle to save friend after acid is thrown in his face

Anne-Marie Walsh

Published 06/02/2013 | 04:00

Sylvester Wnukowicz in an induced coma in St James’s Hospital as medics seek to discover if he has lost his sight permanently
Mr Wnukowicz with his children Marcelina (5) and Maciej (2)

A TRUCK driver has told how he battled to save his friend's eyesight after he was doused with acid during an attack at his home.

Dave Ramsay, originally from Glasgow, was the first person on the scene when his pal Sylvester Wnukowicz (33), from Poland, was disfigured in what appears to have been a random assault.

Mr Ramsay, who is a housemate of Mr Wnukowicz, said his friend was having a cigarette at the door of his home in Hollystown in Dublin in the early hours of Monday when he was approached by his attacker.

He said a man in his 30s or 40s, who looked Asian, asked Mr Wnukowicz for a neighbour's house, and then threw acid at him.

He believes it was either a case of mistaken identity or his friend, who was getting ready to go to work, was the unlucky victim of someone who was in a rage and wanted to take out their frustrations.

Coma

Mr Wnukowicz is in an induced coma in the intensive care unit at St James's Hospital in Dublin, as doctors try to determine if he was permanently blinded in the attack.

"I was in my bed at 6am and hit the snooze button on my alarm when it went off," said Mr Ramsay.

"The next minute, I heard 'Dave, Dave, come quickly. Hurry, hurry', and I came down the stairs and he was in the sitting room waving his arms in the air. He said 'someone threw acid in my face'.

"There was blood coming out of his eyes."

He said he went into a downstairs toilet and started throwing water on his friend's face, rang the gardai, threw on clothes and tried to find the attacker.

"I feel guilty that I wasn't up 10 minutes earlier, as I might have caught him," he said.

"Sylvester has no sight at the moment and his eyelashes were completely burnt off. Surgeons told us his corneas are damaged. His face is swollen and he can't even open his eyes and is plugged up to eight or nine machines."

He said tests were being carried out to analyse the acid, although gardai believe it was not car-battery acid and more likely a substance that could be bought at a DIY store.

Mr Ramsay and Mr Wnukowicz have been friends for almost two years, since they met while living on the nearby Waterville estate. They both work as truck drivers, although for separate companies.

"If he hasn't got his eyesight, he hasn't got a career," said the victim's pal.

His wife Magdalena, and their two children, Marcelina (5) and Maciej (2), were at his side yesterday.

Magdalena was on her way home after working a nightshift in Superquinn, Blanchardstown, when the attack happened.

His parents in Poland have been told of the attack, but his sister, Anya, who is on holiday in Bangkok, has not been informed.

There were acid stains on the door of Mr Wnukowicz's house yesterday as gardai called to interview neighbours and friends. They are examining CCTV footage from the estate.

The house was full of Mr Wnukowicz's friends who had travelled from Poland for tonight's match between Ireland and Poland.

The victim is not known to gardai for any involvement in crime.

Irish Independent

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