LONDON – A jury in central England on Wednesday convicted a Muslim man of enlisting men to attack his 3-year-old son with a corrosive acid amid a custody battle with the child’s mother.
The jury found the 40-year-old Muslim man and five others guilty of conspiracy with intent to “burn, maim or disfigure.” The boy suffered serious injuries on his face and arm when sulfuric acid was thrown on him inside a store in July.
Prosecutors alleged the father wanted more contact with his son and organized the plot to manufacture evidence the child’s mother was unfit to care for him.
The father was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The five co-defendants received prison terms of 12 to 14 years. A seventh defendant was acquitted.
Judge Robert Juckes told the men they committed a “monstrous” crime that had been carefully planned and executed.
Jurors deliberated for nine hours before convicting the father, from Wolverhampton but originally from Afghanistan, on Wednesday.
In a statement read as the father was jailed, the boy’s mother said she feared that her estranged husband’s sense of “honour” would drive him to kill her if ever released.
Judge Robert Juckes QC, who granted the mother a lifetime restraining order, accepted her testimony that the father had once also asked an imam about killing his spouse, after she had previously walked out with the children in 2012.
She told how he also once watched a video of a father who killed his daughter, then telling his wife “that’s our culture. They call it honour killing”.
Jurors also convicted co-conspirators Adam Cech, Jan Dudi, Norbert Pulko, Jabar Paktia, and Saied Hussini of plotting to spray sulphuric acid on the boy with intent to cause harm.
Another individual, Martina Badiova, was cleared by a majority verdict of conspiring to carry out the attack on the young boy, who has since made a “good recovery” and is living with his mother.
Judge Juckes said the men “spent the night in celebration” after the attack, “as though none of you began to appreciate the monstrous thing you had done”.
Sentencing, Judge Juckes said: “Even battle-hardened crown court judges were sickened when they heard the news that someone had attacked a three-year-old with sulphuric acid.
“As the news became clearer it seemed only to darken. This was not some momentary loss of temper or irrational anger-fuelled revenge. It became increasingly apparent how well-planned this was, with links going back to the man, who plainly was at the heart of this attack, who was that own boy’s own father.
“It is an extraordinary thing in this case that not one of you, most of whom have no previous convictions, most of whom with families of your own, at any stage stood back and asked the question of yourself and others, ‘What are we doing?”‘
The trial was marked by high tension, smirking and mockery between defendants, with the trial judge saying that nearly all those found guilty had run”markedly cut-throat” defences.
Source: AP, Telegraph