53-year-old Indian-origin man jailed for 20 years over acid attack in UK

A 53-year-old Indian-origin man has been jailed for 20 years by a UK court for leaving his neighbour in east London with “catastrophic injuries” after throwing acid over him during an argument.

Santokh Johal must serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars with the remainder on licence or parole, a judge ruled at Snaresbrook Crown Court this week. He was found guilty by a jury at the same court earlier this year of throwing a corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim, disfigure or to do grievous bodily harm.

“This attack was horrific and left the victim with substantial injuries which will serve as a constant reminder for the rest of his life,” said Detective Constable Jamie Howden, Metropolitan Police investigating officer from the North East Area’s CID.

“Although nothing will heal those scars, the victim can take comfort from knowing that justice has been served,” he said, after Johal’s sentencing on Tuesday.

Police were called by the unnamed victim, aged in his 30s, on January 4, 2019, who said that Johal was outside his house in Leyton swearing and threatening to stab him. While still on the phone to police, the victim opened his lounge window. As soon as Johal saw the window open, he picked up a bottle that he had brought with him and squirted the substance at the victim.

He then left the scene, leaving the victim in excruciating pain as the substance immediately began burning his skin, the Met Police said.

Police officers, the London Ambulance Service and the London Fire Brigade attended and found the victim with grey marks over his upper body and arms. The victim was immediately put in the shower and was hosed off with water.

The victim was taken to hospital where he underwent skin graft surgery on around 20 per cent of his body. He continues to attend a specialist burns hospital once a month for rehabilitation and therapy – the expected time frame for this treatment is indefinite, the police said.

In a statement read to the court, the victim said: “Since this incident, I have not been able to sleep because I often see the defendant in my dreams trying to finish me off. I am constantly watching over my shoulder and if I see someone that looks similar to Johal, I panic and am extremely frightened despite the fact I know he is in custody.

“I will be scarred for life. My body does not feel like my body anymore. Even in hot weather, I am having to dress in long sleeves and jackets just to cover my injuries.” Specialist officers with knowledge of chemical substances attended the scene and examined the substance, which was identified as being 91 per cent sulphuric acid – it was measured at pH1 level or as highly acidic.

Johal, who attacked his victim following a long-standing neighbour dispute, was arrested on the day of the attack in January and charged the next day.

“As far as I am concerned, Johal has got what he wanted and he has ruined me for life. I have tried to come to terms with everything over the last eight months but still, I am haunted by the defendant and have had to accept that he has shown no remorse for invading my life and my existence,” the victim said.