Editor’s comment: Jailed teen is still putting public at risk

Derryck John has been sentenced for throwing acid. Picture: CPS

Derryck John has been sentenced for throwing acid. Picture: CPS - Credit: CPS

It’s disappointing that Derryck John was able to perceive the potential consequences of giving up his co-conspirator to police, but not the consequences of throwing a high-strength corrosive in the faces of six people.

This 17-year-old kid is either so terrified of the repercussions of talking to cops that a lengthy jail term seems like a soft option, or genuinely doesn’t realise what an absolute dick move he pulled in attacking all those people.

There is no getting around the fact that John would be putting himself in a degree of danger by naming his accomplice. A murder trial is currently running at the Old Bailey over the death of Nashon Esbrand in Canonbury, who was stabbed to death – it is alleged – because he spoke to police. So unless the justice system is to expend an enormous amount of time and energy in giving John an entirely new identify, there will be a risk to his safety if he talks. But every day he doesn’t is a day that a dangerous man walks free, potentially planning to repeat the crime he got away with. These attacks can be fatal, and certainly destroy lives: readers may remember the investigation the Gazette ran last year into the ease of obtaining high-strength ammonia, and the horrific image of what it did to a steak (the least vegan thing I’ve been involved in for some time).

But then again, by virtue of his age – he’ll be 18 in October – John’s sentence is a fraction of what it could have been, and he’ll be out of jail in just over five years. Hopefully, by then, his victims’ scars – both physical and psychological – will have healed. It is a moot point whether prison works, or what a better alternative might look like, but my hope for John is that he leaves his cell as a better man. Keeping quiet about the coward who rode on his moped and attacked strangers is a bad start.