Friday 23 March 2018

Teen could go blind after suffering horrific burns in acid attack

The incident happened at Ockenden train station in Essex Google Street View
The incident happened at Ockenden train station in Essex Google Street View

Five teenagers were violently attacked with acid while waiting on a train platform in Essex, leaving two with potentially "life changing" injuries.

Lee Elliott, 17, suffered horrific burns to his face and could lose his vision, while Tyrone Terry, also 17, has serious burns to his tongue and mouth.

The victims, all aged between 16 and 18, include Billy Milne and Connor Leeman, who suffered burns to their faces, while Kane Richards received burns to his hands, according to local newspaper the Echo. 

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Gail McKemmie said: "This was a particularly vicious and alarming assault which has left some of the victims with potentially life changing injuries. This was an unprovoked and violent incident and it is essential that those responsible are identified and brought to justice.

"Although our investigation is in its early stages, it would appear that this was a random and isolated incident."

A 17-year-old man from Dagenham contacted the police following an appeal, and has since been arrested in relation to the incident.

According to the British Transport Police, a man travelling to Barking with a group of up to nine others left his train and approached the group of five teenagers who were waiting on the platform at about 12.40am on Sunday.

After a short exchange of words the man revealed a bottle from behind his back and prayed an unknown liquid on the victims, before re-joining his group on the train.

Lee Elliot's mother Tanya, 43, told the Echo: "This has destroyed him and I want justice.

"When I saw him I had panic attacks and I couldn’t breathe, it has broken all of our hearts. They were just waiting for a train coming home from a party.

"Elliott said about ten people who were on a train that stopped ... started screaming at them, trying to get them on the train. Then the group went up to the kids and just started squirting them with a fluid."

MP James Berry, who plans to publish a report calling on more action from the government to tackle the rise in acid attacks, told the Independent: "These brutal attacks leave their victims with a life sentence which is often longer than the sentence the perpetrators receive.

"The government needs to consider restricting access to acids and alkalines [sic] because this worrying spate of cases suggests that they are becoming a weapon of choice," he said.

Doctors at St Andrew’s Centre for Plastic Surgery and Burns, under the leadership of Professor Peter Dziewulski, have also called for tighter legislation to prevent acid attacks.

"The intentional use of acid as a form of assault has increased in recent years and as with any burn, it can have devastating effects both physically and mentally," they said.

"Contributing factors that are responsible for the increased incidence of acid attacks include the increase use of acid in gang-related events as younger gang members are becoming more ruthless.

"There have also been reports of acid being used in cases of intimidation, to show that power has been exerted.

"Ultimately, the main aim of using acid as a form of assault relates to leaving a mark and this in turn, causes great distress for the victim."

Information obtained by the Press Association in January showed a 30 per cent increase in the number of acid attacks in the last two years.

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