Derryck John: Jail for teen who attacked six moped riders in Hackney, Islington and Stratford with strong corrosive
- Credit: CPS
The teenager who attacked six moped riders across Hackney, Islington and Stratford in 70 minutes with a powerful corrosive has been jailed for more than a decade.
Judge Noel Lucas described to Wood Green Crown Court how Derryck John, then 16, had gone on the rampage last summer, riding pillion behind an “older man” he has refused to name and who is still at large.
Appearing via video link from Feltham Young Offenders Institution, John was told by his mother: “We will forgive you.”
John appeared emotionless as she shouted at him with a smile: “You look sexy, man.” Minutes later, loudly sobbing, she added: “Mummy loves you. Daddy’s here. We give him everything. You did a nasty action.”
Victims were sprayed through their helmet visors with an extremely noxious liquid – which is thought to be either acid with a pH of one or ammonia with a pH of 14 – leaving some of them with “life-changing injuries” and emotional scars.
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Bruno Goncalves, who was stopped at a red light in Upper Clapton Road at 11.10am, immediately lost sight in his right eye and has been left partially blind after John squirted a corrosive substance into his eyes and face from an Evian water bottle.
He dropped his vehicle to the floor and, as he lifted his helmet, John and his accomplice started kicking the bike and tried to lift it up. But they fled when he approached them.
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He was left in excruciating pain and was treated for eight hours at Homerton Hospital. When he was transferred to a specialist eye hospital, he was told his eye had “turned black” because 70pc of the cells had been burnt.
Painkillers and medication to treat the damage is costing him £150 every fortnight, which is crippling him financially as he had to give up his job as a food delivery rider.
Fearful of being attacked again, Mr Goncalves now finds it hard to trust people, and feels as though people react negatively to his injuries “as if he has been involved in something sinister”.
“Your actions were both despicable and cowardly,” Judge Lucas told John.
“You and your accomplice chose to attack members of the public going about their lawful business. You haven’t revealed the name of your accomplice, or the substance you used, or where you obtained it.”
Judge Lucas told John that, had he been an adult, he would have received a sentence of 22 years.
Aggravating features included premeditation, that he had committed more than one offence, that the crimes took place at night on a busy public highway leaving other road users in peril, and the significant effects on the victims.
Judge Lucas had to give John credit for his – albeit late – guilty plea, which “avoided a costly trial”, and also had to take into account guidelines for sentencing youths, which state “it may be appropriate” to consider a starting point of half to three quarters of an adult sentence.
“The least sentence that I can pass is one of 10 and a half years’ detention,” he said. “You will serve up to half this sentence in custody and then you will be released on licence.”
In January, John, 17, of Thornton Heath, south London, pleaded guilty to six counts of throwing a corrosive liquid with intent to “disable, burn, maim, disfigure or cause grievous bodily harm”, two counts of robbery and four counts of attempted robbery at Wood Green Crown Court.
He changed his plea at the last minute when the CPS produced photos of him lifting off his helmet at the Texaco service station in Mare Street, where the pair stopped to buy £5 worth of petrol.
Although John later claimed in a pre-sentencing report compiled by the Youth Offending Team that he had not squirted the acid at the victims, his barrister explained on Friday that he was aware that “serious harm” was going to be caused by throwing the substance and he had therefore engaged in joint enterprise.