Woman detained indefinitely for life-changing acid attack

Derek Mahoney immediately after the attack, photo National News and Pictures

Derek Mahoney immediately after the attack, photo National News and Pictures - Credit: National News and Pictures

A Hackney Homes’ gardener was scarred for life when a woman threw concentrated sulphuric acid in his face because she was “annoyed” by the sound of his strimmer.

Derek Mahoney, 53, was cutting grass on the Keir Hardie estate in Lower Clapton when irritated tenant Jacqueline Pocket hurled the industrial drain cleaner at him.

He lost three layers of skin from chemical burns to his head, neck, face and back and spent months receiving specialist treatment at specialist Broomfield hospital in Chelmsford.

As Pocket, 54, was sentenced to an unlimited hospital order on Thursday last week, Mr Mahoney said he was disappointed with the decision and that he had been lucky not to be blinded in the attack on May 14 last year.

He said: “I feel she should have been sent to prison and she should be punished.

“It was only by circumstance and me having working goggles on that I wasn’t blinded or worse. To be frank I am angry and I feel let down.

“The thought she could be out in just over a year is worrying, especially for the safety of the public. Who knows if she might do it again?”

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Speaking about the incident itself, he said: “People have told me about pain before, but when I felt it on my face it just got hotter and hotter.

“If I was by myself that day it all could have been so much worse.

“It has affected my life – not only physically with the burns, but also mentally.

“I’m afraid to go out and when I am around other people I’m quite jumpy. I just stay in at home a lot where I feel it is safe.”

Pocket originally denied applying corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim, disfigure or disable Mr Mahoney to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH) but later pleaded guilty to a lesser offence of GBH.

Ms Pocket was arrested at her home and when asked why she had done it replied: “They get on my nerves. They think they can do what they like.”

Sentencing at Inner London Crown Court, Judge Paul Taylor said he was satisfied Ms Pocket suffers from a mental health disorder.

He added: “A number of doctors have identified that as being a delusional disorder.

“Imposing a hospital order could be seen as the soft option, but in this case it is the opposite.

“It could lead to this lady spending the rest of her life in custody in a hospital environment.”

The judge said the length of the order depended on Pocket’s cooperation with the treatment and “that is why the resulting order is without limit”.