A Swanley man has been jailed for seven years today for throwing acid in two teenage brothers' faces in Gravesend and telling them: "In five seconds you're going to be blind."
Levi Bruce, 31, of Moultain Hill, changed his plea to guilty on two charges of GBH with intent, four days after his trial was due to start at Maidstone Crown Court.
The father-of-three threw what is believed to be drain cleaner over Mark Eastwood, 19, and Charles Eastwood, 16, on January 21 in Ingoldsby Road, Gravesend, after a feud between the two families.
The court heard how Bruce visited the Eastwoods' home in Shamrock Road with a group of men at 5.45pm on January 21 following an argument the day before.
He told the youngest brother Wayne Eastwood he wanted to speak to the teenagers' father.
He walked away and minutes later flagged down Mark Eastwood who had been driving home.
Prosecutor Damian van Dagvenbode said: "The defendant said he wanted to fight Mark's father and Mark said he'd have to go through him first.
"After this, without any warning Bruce pulled out some sort of container and discharged a liquid into Mark's face, from about two metres away. It happened very suddenly.
"Before the victim knew it, there was a noxious substance squirted on to his face.
"Then the defendant said to him 'in five seconds, you will be blind'.
"He said it felt like someone had held a blowtorch up to his face."
The acid splattered over the teenager's face, chest, legs and arms.
Mr van Dagvenbode told the court: "He could sense it was corrosive and it burned and caused him extreme discomfort but he was able to chase the defendant back to Rose Avenue.
"His brother Charles joined them and saw Mark clutching his face.
"Both victims describe seeing the defendant go to the boot of his car and pull out a container and squirting the contents on them."
The Eastwoods were rushed to hospital - Mark had received four per cent burns to his body and Charles two per cent.
Mr van Dagvenbode referred to victim impact statements from the pair as he revealed to the court how the trauma had affected them.
"Mark said how the words 'you're going to be blind in five seconds' kept going round his head.
"He says when he goes out people look at him like he's a monster.
"Initially him and his brother only left the house to go to hospital appointments.
“He spent his time at home mulling over the attack and wishing he could take on his younger brother's burns.
"When he started to go out socially he would wear long-sleeved t-shirts and a hat because he was self conscious about the burns covering his body.
"He counted up the burns recently and there were 62 in total.
"He had to apply paraffin oil several times a day to his burns and could not wash for a while in case they became infected.
"Charles had been doing well on a bricklaying course before but was not able to complete it because of his injuries."
Consultant plastic surgeon Bajit Dheansa said it took a month for the wounds to heal into scabs and this length of time indicated thick, permanent scarring was possible for both brothers.
The bottle of "highly acidic" fluid was never recovered but a forensics expert said the effects on the teenagers' clothing were similar to that of drain cleaner.
Pieter Briegel, mitigating, told the court: "The defendant says he went to the Eastwoods' home in an attempt to be a peace-maker.
"It related to an altercation between the two families which had occurred the day before, which he was not involved in.
"It was an isolated incident and wholly out of character.
"He said when he saw photos of the burns, he felt sick."
Recorder Mark Van Der Zwart, who let the jury that would have heard the trial witness the sentencing after they had been discharged, said: "These injuries were shocking and disfiguring.
"A medical expert has said it is highly probable there will be permanent and serious scarring.
"The plain fact is that they and you were extremely lucky not to have been blinded.
"There is no justification for what you did whatsoever."
Bruce was sentenced to seven years for the two counts, to be served concurrently.
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