A teenager has been jailed for 17 years for the UK’s first acid attack killing.
Xeneral Webster, 19, was sentenced over the manslaughter of Joanne Rand at the Reading Crown Court on Tuesday where he was also given an extended licence period of three years.
Sentencing Webster, of Westway, west London, Judge Angela Morris said: “You and your actions bear the responsibility for her (Ms Rand’s) tragic demise.”
She continued: “The cost of your actions were incalculable and irreparable for her family and friends and there is no sentence which this court can pass which can replace the value of her life.”
After the sentence was read out Webster - who had been attacked with acid himself just months ago, and has permanent scarring from where the liquid burned him - shouted abuse at the judge from the dock, saying: “All of you will probably dead by the time I am out of here, fuck you bro”.
Webster was also sentenced for two counts of possessing an offensive weapon, namely a samurai sword and ammonia, along with criminal damage and making threats to kill relating to a separate incident to which he pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
Rand had been visiting her daughter’s grave in High Wycombe when she was hit with sulphuric acid Webster had been carrying in a bottle on June 3 last year, the court earlier heard.
The 47-year-old nurse was sitting on a bench in Frogmoor when Webster got into a confrontation with another man while trying to steal a bike.
During the altercation, Webster pulled out the bottle from his satchel which the other man knocked from his hand and kicked away.
Rand, a mother of two, then felt a liquid land on her and screamed in pain.
She then ran to a nearby branch of KFC for help and to splash water over herself as Webster calmly put a balaclava over his face, retrieved the empty bottle and cycled away. He then discarded the bottle and took a train home.
Rand suffered “painful and disfiguring burns” to 5% of her body and received treatment for her injuries at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, but died 11 days later from multiple organ failure after contracting septicaemia due to the acid burns.
Rand worked at the Sir Aubrey Ward care home in Marlow, Bucks, and was described as “hard-working and passionate about her job” in a tribute issued by her family who have since called for tough sentences for people carrying acid.
Rand’s daughter Katie Pitwell, 18, said: “I think the buying of acid needs to be restricted but also if someone is carrying it there should be tougher sentences because most of the time they do intend to use it for harm.”
She added: “He went out with the intention of hurting someone and it’s an innocent person that got hurt in this situation.
“People need to know that if they’re carrying that type of stuff, it’s going to hurt someone or kill someone.”
Rand’s sister sister Lynn Ryan earlier described to the court how Rand’s children watched their mother die as her condition deteriorated with every passing day.
“The day before Jo died I will never forget the look in her eyes when she asked me, ‘am I going to die?’,” she said, according to Sky News.
She said her sister’s death had left “a massive hole in our lives” and turning to Webster, she added: “You did this to us... whatever sentence you get will never be enough.”
Speaking outside court after the sentencing, Ryan said while “we can’t being Jo back and we don’t feel like we have complete justice for her today”, the family was happy Webster had admitted the crime.
Pitwell told of the impact Webster’s action will have on her life going forward: “I have to live with the fact that she (Rand) will never be at my wedding or see me as I progress through life. This shouldn’t have happened to her. It has left such a big impact on all of our lives, but we are satisfied knowing that the killer won’t be able to hurt others now.”
Adrian Foster, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Joanne Rand was not the intended victim of the attack but the prosecution was brought on the basis that by producing an open bottle of acid and raising it to the face of another man, Xeneral Webster intended to cause that individual really serious harm.
“Had Webster not planned to seriously hurt the intended victim, Joanne would still be alive today and he is responsible for her death.”
Foster said the consequences of Webster’s actions should “serve as a tragic example” and a reminder that those who use acid as a weapon, “intending to maim, disfigure or cause the death of a victim” will be severely punished.
“Nothing will bring Joanne back to her family and friends, but we hope today’s sentence brings them, at least, a small sense that justice has been done,” she added.