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London Acid Attacks See 16-Year-Old Charged With 15 Offences

He's been charged with 15 offences.

16/07/2017 09:03

A 16-year-old boy has been charged by police investigating five linked acid attacks which took place in less than 90 minutes in London.

The teenager is charged with 15 offences including grievous bodily harm and possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance, the Metropolitan Police said.

He has been remanded in custody to appear before Stratford Youth Court on Monday.

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Police said the teenager has been charged with one count of GBH with intent, one count of possession of an item to discharge a noxious substance, three counts of robbery, one count of handling stolen goods, four counts of attempted robbery and five counts of attempted GBH with intent.

Earlier on Saturday, a 15-year-old boy who was arrested at an address in Stoke Newington on Friday morning on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and robbery was released on bail until a date in early August.

Five separate male victims - all on mopeds - were allegedly targeted by two moped-riding attackers.

Food delivery rider Jabed Hussain, 32, who works for UberEATS, was on his way home when he had his moped stolen and his face sprayed with liquid at around 10.25pm at traffic lights on Hackney Road. 

“I’m too scared to go back to work,” he told the Press Association. 

“I’m really scared. I don’t know what to do. My wife, she’s scared. My family’s scared. They were asking me to leave that job, but I love that job.” 

Little more than 20 minutes after the first attack, at 10.49pm, a 44-year-old moped driver was sprayed with a liquid at the Upper Street junction with Highbury Corner in Islington. 

The victim was taken to a hospital in north London. His vehicle was not stolen. 

Then at around 11.05pm, police were called after attackers targeted a man in Shoreditch High Street, tossing a substance in his face. 

His injuries were not life-threatening and his moped was not stolen, police said. 

Within 15 minutes, a corrosive substance was hurled at a man on Upper Clapton Road, causing “life-changing” facial injuries. 

Police were called to the scene at 11.18pm. 

The final assault was reported to police at 11.37pm, when another man was confronted as he sat on his moped in traffic in Chatsworth Road. 

Liquid was sprayed in his face and his moped was stolen by the attackers, who then fled.

It comes as the Home Secretary has indicated acid attack convictions could soon carry life sentences as a crackdown on corrosive substances was unveiled by the Government.

Hannah Mckay / Reuters
Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Amber Rudd warned that an overhaul of current guidelines would ensure those who use noxious liquids as a weapon “feel the full force of the law”.

“I am clear that life sentences must not be reserved for acid attack survivors,” she wrote in the Sunday Times.

Proposals to ensure acid and other corrosive substances can be classed as dangerous weapons are among the changes included in the shake-up.

The Government will also aim to put in place measures which restrict the sale of such substances by retailers, Rudd said. 

The Home Office said it will work with police and the Ministry of Justice to assess whether powers available to the courts, including sentencing, are sufficient.

Mrs Rudd wrote: “Today I am announcing an action plan to tackle acid attacks. It will include a wide-ranging review of the law enforcement and criminal justice response, of existing legislation, of access to harmful products and of the support offered to victims.”

“We will also make sure that those who commit these terrible crimes feel the full force of the law,” she added.

“We will seek to ensure that everyone working within the criminal justice system, from police officers to prosecutors, has the powers they need to punish severely those who commit these appalling crimes.”

Possession of acid or other corrosive substances with the intention to do harm can already be treated as possession of an offensive weapon under the Prevention of Crime Act, which carries a four-year maximum penalty.

The Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) guidance to prosecutors will now be reviewed to ensure it makes clear that acid and other corrosive substances can be classed as dangerous weapons, and what is required to prove intent.

The Poisons Act 1972 will be assessed to consider if it should cover more harmful substances, while retailers will be asked to agree to measures to restrict sales of acids and other corrosive substances.

New guidance will also be issued to police officers on preventing attacks, searching potential attackers for harmful substances and responding to victims at the scene.

More than 400 acid or corrosive substance attacks were carried out in the six months up to April 2017, according to figures from 39 forces in England and Wales.

Bleach, ammonia and acid were the most commonly used substances, the Home Office said.

Sarah Newton, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, will outline the Government’s strategy on combating acid attacks in the Commons on Monday.

In an earlier statement, Rudd said: “Acid attacks are horrific crimes which have a devastating effect on victims, both physically and emotionally.

“It is vital that we do everything we can to prevent these sickening attacks happening in the first place.

“We must also ensure that the police and other emergency services are able to respond as effectively as possible, that sentences reflect the seriousness of the offences and victims are given the immediate support they need.”

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