Acid attack woman recounts horror
A woman left horribly burned and disfigured after being doused with corrosive acid has described the moment she saw the eyes of her masked attacker.
Vikki Horsman had "peeked around the corner of the porch door" to a hooded male caller wearing a bandana across his face who then threw the liquid directly in her face on April 15 this year.
Ms Horsman, in Wolverhampton Crown Court for the trial of the three men accused of carrying out the attack, spoke with emotion and described how she was left "screaming" after the attack at a house at MacDonald Close, Tividale, in the West Midlands.
The 20-year-old told jurors that she glimpsed her blistering face and neck as she stumbled back into the house, hurriedly dousing her face with cold water from the kitchen tap.
Earlier, she had described the breakdown of her relationship with 80-year-old Muslim man Mohammed Rafiq - more than 60 years her senior - with whom she had been sleeping since she was 18.
Rafiq, whom she had known six years, had bought her a car, but became increasingly "very controlling" she told the court.
"He often accused me of cheating on him," he said.
She also told the jury of seven women and five men how she had "pressure put on me" from Rafiq to convert to Islam, and change her name to Aleena Rafiq in November 2013.
Anthony Warner, prosecuting, asked her if she had done so willingly, and she replied "not particularly".
The change meant only eating halal food, adopting Muslim prayers and changing the way she dressed.
However, the accusations of cheating continued and after matters came to a head in early 2014 when Rafiq went through her personal belongings, she decided to end their relationship.
Asked by Mr Warner how the older man had taken the news, she said: "He got very angry.
"He still thought we were in a relationship even though I had ended things".
Describing the attack, she said Rafiq had been with her at a friend's house, dog-sitting, in Tividale, where she was going to get some sleep before starting a nightshift as a healthcare assistant.
She was removing her contact lenses in the upstairs bathroom, when she heard "a knock at the door".
Rafiq told her it was "a man for you", she said, but as she opened the front door she was confronted by a man "in a grey hoodie, a bandana over his face, and his hood up".
"I could just see his eyes," she said.
"He said 'Vikki' - then this substance was thrown at me.
"I just started screaming because of the burning".
The Crown says Rafiq, of Cheshire Road, Smethwick, West Midlands, became unhappy with Ms Horsman's increasing independence and increasingly "obsessed" with her movements, even going through her personal possessions.
Rafiq, sitting in the dock listening to proceedings through earphones wearing a blue jacket and a shirt, denies inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent on Ms Horsman, alongside two other men.
The Crown alleges he planned the attack with co-accused Shannon Heaps, 23, and 25-year-old Steven Holmes, who is said to have carried out the attack in the porch of a house in Tividale, West Midlands.
Heaps, of Queens Avenue, Tividale, and Holmes, of Allan Close, are standing trial together with Rafiq, who also denies a charge of perverting the course of justice.
Ms Horsman will be cross-examined later.
Prompted by questions about her recollections, Ms Horsman told the jury she had been placed under sedation in intensive care for five days following the attack, and also underwent surgery.
She described the moment the acid splashed her as "just instant burning - piercing pain", affecting her face, neck, ears and shoulder.
Rafiq's QC, Anthony Berry, asked Ms Horsman if she could remember where his client had been immediately before the moment she suffered what he called the "hideous and frightening injury".
"I suggest that at the point when you came down the stairs, although he may have been sat when you first came in, he was then at the bottom of the stairs and to your right," he added.
But she replied: "No, I can remember him sat."
Later Mr Berry put it to the victim that Rafiq had been standing with her in the porch just before she opened the door to the attacker.
But Ms Horsman again said: "No, I remember opening the door myself".
Mr Berry then asked Ms Horsman about her health when she had made her statement to police, just eight days after the attack and having only just come out of sedation.
She replied: "I was not feeling too good. I was in a lot of pain."
Mr Berry described that as "an admirable understatement".
Later, when she was re-examined by the Crown's barrister Mr Warner, she said she remembered seeing Rafiq "standing by the living room window" as she reeled away from the attack.