Monday 22 January 2018

Dad of two seriously burned with acid in unprovoked road rage attack by stranger

Man needed skin grafts after being left with third-degree burns to face and scalp following attack at traffic lights in Essex, jurors told

Darren Pidgeon after the attack. Picture Crimewatch UK
Darren Pidgeon after the attack. Picture Crimewatch UK

A motorist suffered third-degree burns to his face and scalp after he had acid sprayed over him in an unprovoked attack by two strangers, a court heard.

Ashley Russell, 30, and Christina Storey, 32, appeared in court accused of spraying acid over Darren Pidgeon while he was cornered in his car.

Darren Pidgeon after the attack. Picture Crimewatch UK
Darren Pidgeon after the attack. Picture Crimewatch UK

Mr Pigeon suffered burns to five per cent of his body and spent 24 days at Broomfield Hospital in Essex following the attack on the evening of June 3, 2014.

Residents tried to help the victim, but Mr Pidgeon had skin grafts and there was also damage to his ear and eye along with severe burns to his face and scalp.

The court heard how the alleged attackers do not know the victim and had only came across each other at a set of traffic lights where both were waiting to move.

Shortly before the attack, Mr Pidgeon was approaching a roundabout when Storey pulled in front of him at Laindon, Essex, the court heard.

Storey is then alleged to have followed Mr Pidgeon, 29, where she "boxed in" his car and a passenger, who the prosecution argue is Russell, approached Mr Pigeon's car.

Basildon Crown Court heard how Russell asked through the open driver window, "Have you got a problem?" before spraying acid over Mr Pidgeon's face, scalp, arm and shoulder.

Opening the case, Greg Unwin prosecuting said: "This case is about on the occasion an attack upon Mr Darren Pidgeon and in that attack acid was sprayed upon his face and body apparently by a complete stranger for no obvious reason."

The court heard how Mr Pidgeon was driving down the A129 where it meets the A127 in his grey Citroen C4 and he stopped at the junction at a set of lights in the middle lane.

Mr Unwin said: "His recollection is that he was in the middle lane and he became aware of another car, it was a red car that pulled up on the left side of him in the left lane.

"At the lights he looked across, he didn't particularly think anything of this car at the time. Nothing especially unusual happened but he did notice there were two occupants in the vehicle.

"At the junction it seems that no words were exchanged and there doesn't appear to be an altercation."

Basildon Crown Court heard how the red car pulled in front of Mr Pidgeon, but there was not a collision and that seemed to be the extent of the first meeting.

Mr Pidgeon drove for a few more minutes before using a round to turn around in where he was cornered by the red Rover. The court then heard how Mr Pidgeon saw a female driver and Storey accepts she was the driver of the red Rover.

Mr Pidgeon also saw a male passenger and Russell argues he was not the one in the car at the time of the attack.

But the court heard how Russell and Storey were captured on CCTV just minutes after the attack at a BP service station not far away from the scene in Laindon, Essex.

Mr Unwin said: "When he [Mr Pidgeon] got to the end and he was turning around he put his car in reverse and recalled that the red car had driven right in behind him and was blocking him from being able to reverse and he was trapped and blocked in by the vehicle.

"The passenger of the red car then got out and ran around to Mr Pidgeon's driving side. He had the window down and he said words to the effect of, 'have you got a problem?'"

"And while Mr Pidgeon is still sat in his car with the window down the man then squirted a liquid. Mr Pidgeon tried to turn away and put his arm up to protect himself from the spray. he could feel a burning sensation.

"He also recalls being punched to the head through the open window. Mr Pidgeon has no idea why he was attacked.

"As the liquid started to burn into his face, around down the side of his body, he screamed in agony. His attacker ran back and jumped back into the passenger side of the red car. That car then reversed and drove off.

Storey, from Wickford, Essex and Russell from Basildon, Essex, both deny applying a corrosive fluid to a person with intent.

Basildon Crown Court heard how Storey is also charged with a separate offence of assisting an offender after telling the police the crime • was committed by another person. The trial continues.

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