A father organised a “cowardly” sulphuric acid attack on his three-year-old son in an effort to portray his estranged wife in a “bad light” as he battled for access to their three children, a court heard today.
By the time of the attack last summer the father, who can’t be named for legal reasons, had been granted fortnightly supervised contact with his children but was seeking greater access, Worcester Crown Court heard.
Opening the case today prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said: “The evidence suggests that in an effort to ensure his application in court for access was successful the father was willing to manufacture evidence of injuries to his children in an attempt to show that his wife was unable properly to care for them.”
The father is alleged to have plotted with six others, culminating in the acid being thrown onto the child and leaving him with serious burns to his face and left arm at the Home Bargains store in Worcester on the afternoon of July 21, last year.
His 40-year-old father is charged with conspiring to unlawfully or maliciously cast or throw sulphuric acid on or at the boy between June 1 and July 22, with intent to burn, maim, disfigure, or disable the minor, or do some grievous bodily harm to him.
Facing the same charge are his co-accused; Adam Cech, 27, of Farnham Road, and Jan Dudi, 25, of Cranbrook Road, both Birmingham; Norbert Pulko, 22, of Sutherland Road, London; Martina Badiova, 22, of Newcombe Road, Handsworth, Birmingham; Saied Hussini, 41, of Wrottesley Road, London; and Jabar Paktia, 41, of Newhampton Road, Wolverhampton.
They all deny the allegation.
Jonathan Rees QC told the eight women and four men jury: “This case concerns a cowardly attack on a defenceless three-year-old boy in which he was squirted with a solution of sulphuric acid.
“As a result of the attack, the little boy suffered acid burns to his left forearm and his forehead which were treated in hospital.
“Thankfully, due to the quick actions of a member of staff, the seriousness of the injuries was limited and, although it is too early to say whether or not there will be any residual marking, the victim had made a good recovery.”
The defendants sat in a reinforced glass-surrounded dock along with a bank of interpreters whose hushed whispers were audible in the background throughout the opening of the six-week trial.
The court heard that at the time of the alleged attack the boy was shopping with his mother and two siblings and Rees alleged the attack was carried out by Cech.
“It was over almost in the blink of the eye and may have gone undetected were it not for the fact it was captured on the shop’s internal CCTV system,” he said.
“At the time he carried out the attack, Cech was accompanied by two other defendants in the store, namely the third and fourth defendants, Jan Dudi and Norbert Pulko.”
The alleged attack was not the first time that the young boy had been targeted, with an incident taking place near the victim’s school on July 13, just a week before the acid attack, and involving Pulko, Hussini and Badiova, the court heard.
“When their mother collected the children at the end of the school day, Pulko followed the group as they made their way towards the family car.
“He had an object of some sort in his hands, but for reasons that may be to do with the fact that other people were very close by, no attack was carried out at that point,” Rees QC said.
He went on to explain to the jury that although the prosecution are not required to prove motive against any of the defendants, “we suggest that his desire to show his wife in a bad light may have provided at least some of the motivation for him organising this attack on his son”.
He added: “It would enable him to say to the court that the child had sustained nasty injuries while he was in the care of his mother.
“Whilst we say the attack had its roots in his unhappy domestic situation, we allege that he enlisted others to help him carry out his plan.”
Rees said that in 2012 the mother of the alleged victim had left her husband but returned after three days when he told her that he’d asked an imam (muslim religious leader) whether he was allowed to kill her and his children in accordance with his religion.
“When she arrived home, he accused her of humiliating him in front of his people and his family,” Rees said.
“He told her that he had spoken to an imam. He said that he had asked the Imam whether he was allowed to kill his wife and his children in accordance with the religion but the iman told him that he could not do that and was advised to pray instead.
“In the same vein and in front of his wife, he threatened to take the children outside the UK to a Muslim country to have them killed.
“He said he would do this because he would not get into trouble if he did it in a Muslim country.
“He also threatened to get someone else to kill his wife and the children; he said that he knew someone who would do that kind of thing for him and the police would never find out who had done it.”
Rees added: “The prosecution suggest that the threats he made about having his children killed help provide an answer to one of the questions which arise in this case: what sort of a father can contemplate deliberately injuring one of his children?”
The court heard that the father also paid a private detective to carry out surveillance on his wife.
The trial was adjourned until Wednesday when the victim’s mother is expected to give evidence.