'Face melter' acid attack was revenge for drug deal that went wrong, court told
A mother of six was blinded in one eye after having a "face melter" acid thrown at her out of revenge for a drug deal that went wrong, a court has heard.
Carla Whitlock, 37, was attacked with a drain cleaner containing highly concentrated sulphuric acid which scarred her face and burnt her eyelids as she was walking in Southampton city centre with her partner Matthew Wedgner on September 18 last year.
Billy Midmore, 22, is on trial at Southampton Crown Court accused of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, which he denies. His brother Geoffrey Midmore, 26, has previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.
Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, told the court that the brothers had together purchased the high-strength drain cleaner for the attack on Miss Whitlock outside the Turtle Bay restaurant.
She said: "Carla Whitlock was assaulted by having a liquid thrown in her face, that liquid caused serious injuries.
"She is scarred, her eyelids were burnt, as were her face and other parts of her body."
She added: "It landed on her face and shoulders, she got some on her hands because her immediate reaction when her face was burning was to put her hands up.
"Her initial thought before all the burning was that it was just a drink but it wasn't, it was sulphuric acid.
"They ran off, Geoffrey Midmore and Billy Midmore, they leave Carla Whitlock screaming in pain."
Miss Maylin said that her injuries would have been worse if a doctor had not been passing by and had known to put water on the acid to lessen the impact.
Miss Maylin said that the One Shot drain cleaner used had the highest concentration of sulphuric acid - 89% to 93% - which can be sold to the public and was a product recommended by plumbers.
She said that Geoffrey Midmore had sent a photograph of the bottle on WhatsApp to an acquaintance with the words: "This is one face melter."
Miss Maylin said: "One Shot is all it takes to clear your drain and One Shot is all it takes to cause a serious injury to Carla Whitlock."
Miss Maylin said that the defendant might not have thrown the acid, which was sprayed from a bottle of Magnum tonic wine, but had helped plan the attack with his brother.
She said: "They were brothers in name and they were brothers in actions as well in the days before and the days after."
Miss Maylin said the attack had been out of revenge after Miss Whitlock had introduced a man called Levi to the Midmore brothers and a deal with him worth £2,000 had gone wrong.
She explained that Miss Whitlock and her partner were drug users and had recently purchased drugs from the Midmore brothers, who are of no fixed address but originally from London.
Miss Maylin said: "Whatever happened after that introduction perhaps we will never know but that person introduced by Carla Whitlock to the Midmores did not go smoothly, something went wrong, maybe the new customer did not pay, perhaps he took the drugs, but did that act really require two days later the two Midmore brothers to act in concert by throwing acid over Carla Whitlock's face.
"Because that drug deal went wrong, these two brothers decided to enact their revenge by permanently scarring Miss Whitlock."
Miss Maylin said that prior to the attack, the defendant had sent a text message to Miss Whitlock saying "B**** you dead over chump change", which she said was a threat over the stolen money.
She said a second message was sent by Midmore offering drugs as a reward for helping them find the man called Levi.
Miss Maylin said that the brothers were seen on CCTV later that evening as they took a train to stay at a friend's house in Basingstoke.
She said: "They weren't sorry, they were jubilant, they were high five-ing, they were fist-bumping, they were laughing."
Giving evidence from the witness box, Miss Whitlock said the acid made her face feel like it was "on fire".
Describing the acid being thrown at her, which the prosecution say was carried out by Geoffrey Midmore, she said: "He just kind of smiled at me, pulled a bottle out, I thought he was going to throw a drink at me but it wasn't a joke.
"I felt my face was on fire. I tried to get help from two ladies, I couldn't see, I reached my way to the bouncer and said 'Help me' and he realised something was wrong."
She added: "They were pouring lots of water on me and they called the police and the paramedics."
Describing the extent of her injuries, Miss Whitlock said: "I have no sight in my right eye still. I have to have another operation on my eye and skin-grafting."
Miss Whitlock told the court that she and her partner had been frightened to return to their home that evening following the threats she had received from the Midmore brothers over the drug deal.
She said they had eaten at a church-sponsored cafe and were walking to a friend's house when the attack happened.
She said: "Matt wanted to walk through the park but I said 'Let's walk along the high street' because I felt safer with people around."
Miss Whitlock said she had arranged for two acquaintances to meet the Midmore brothers but she had received angry calls and messages from the brothers who said they had failed to turn up.
The brothers also told her that one of them had been robbed on the way to the meeting, she said.
She added: "I had no involvement in what had happened."
The trial continues.