A burglar who left one of his victims with serious burns after squeezing acid in her face has been jailed.
The 69-year-old woman was hospitalised for eight weeks, requiring a series of operations and skin grafts.
The incident left her scarred for life, after she was attacked by Gerard Whelan, from Paddington, in December 2016 .
The 46-year-old from Penfold Place struck a on numerous occasions that month, including Christmas Day, using liquid sprayed from a bottle several times.
He was given an 18-year sentence at Wood Green Crown Court on Monday (September 25), and told the nature of his offence would mean he would serve at least 12 years behind bars.
He left the 69-year-old victim badly hurt after breaking into her home in Westwood Road, Ilford, on December 13, 2016, as she slept.
When she woke up he was holding a screwdriver over her and said: “If you don’t be quiet I will kill you.”
He took a bangle and rings from her hand and arm and made her sit downstairs while he searched kitchen cupboards.
When she tried to escape he stopped her and squeezed a substance onto her from a white bottle causing her serious injuries.
He also broke her little finger in a struggle for the screwdriver.
The day before, Whelan broke into a home in Lynford Gardens, Ilford in the first of a series of offences on the same day.
He threatened his 90-year-old victim with a screwdriver, sprayed a substance he said was acid on the wall, and demanded money. His victim handed over £190.
Later he assaulted another man in an attempted robbery during which he poured liquid from a container onto the man.
Luckily for the victim, he was wearing a jacket and the liquid did not touch his skin.
Whelan robbed a woman of a car as she was dropping her daughter off at school, attempting to spray her with liquid but missing.
Another man experienced a burning sensation to his mouth and eyes when he was squirted with liquid by Whelan after he lowered the window of his car.
Whelan climbed into the car and demanded the car keys, but the victim took the keys and ran.
Finally he assaulted a woman and stole her handbag, throwing over her face what she thought was acid, but later said smelt more like ammonia, from a small aerosol with the spray nozzle removed.
She could feel liquid burning and stinging her skin and was unable to see out of her left eye. However, there was no permanent damage.
He also attempted to throw the liquid at her husband when he tried to intervene.
In separate offences on Christmas Day 2016, Whelan pretended to be an undercover police officer to talk to a man sitting in a car in Goring Road, Palmers Green, before squeezing from a bottle of what the victim thought was acid into his eye, but which was later cleaned with saline wash with no lasting damage to his face or eye.
Whelan also threatened him with a screwdriver but was unable to drive the car away.
He then assaulted a second man in nearby Moffatt Road with the butt of a screwdriver four times while trying to get the keys to a car.
DNA from a crutch which Whelan was carrying linked him to the offence.
Whelan assaulted another woman, throwing her to the ground after she had started the engine of her car, hitting her with his crutch. He struck at her husband while holding a screwdriver, causing cuts to his hand.
In July, he had admitted to court to:
- December 12, 2016: Aggravated burglary, assault with intent to rob, robbery, assault with intent to rob, robbery.
- December 13 - Aggravated burglary, section 18 GBH.
- December 25 - Assault with intent to rob, assault with intent to rob, having an offensive weapon, assault with intent to rob, assault by beating.
Senior investigating officer DS Brett Hagen, said: “The length of the sentence today reflects the gravity and callous nature of these acid attacks.
“Whelan embarked on a series of horrifying offences against a raft of innocent and vulnerable members of the public, many of whom were lucky not to incur serious injury.
“Unfortunately several of the victims did sustain life changing injuries as a result of being sprayed with a noxious substance.
“One of these elderly ladies spent over eight weeks in hospital and now, some nine months later, still hasn’t returned to work or regained full mobility of both arms.
"The attached pictures show the extent of the injuries Whelan inflicted on her, after he had threatened to kill her and she had tried to escape.”
London Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reviewing lawyer Lily Saw said: “We charged Whelan with aggravated burglary and causing grievous bodily harm with intent, charges which allowed the court to have the full range of sentencing powers leading to today’s 18 year prison sentence.”
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