TWO people have been found guilty of throwing acid over a father - scarring him for life.
Ashley Russell, 30, of Sunnedon, Basildon, and Christina Storey, 32, of Studland Avenue,Wickford, faced an eight-day trial at Basildon Crown Court, charged with throwing corrosive liquid at Darren Pidgeon with the intent to burn, maim, disfigure, disable or cause grievous bodily harm to him.
They both denied the charges but at 12.50pm today, a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict.
Following the verdict, Ashley Russell broke down in the dock.
Darren Pidgeon was left scarred after the attack in June 2014.
Father-of-two Mr Pidgeon, 29, who used to live in Rayleigh, suffered third degree burns to his face, shoulder and the side of his body when targeted with acid in Kingsmere, Thundersley.
Russell was sentenced to 12 years in prison with a further five on licence.
Storey was handed eight years.
The court heard Russell and Storey followed Darren Pidgeon as he drove his car through Thundersley.
When the cars both stopped in a dead end, Russell approached Darren's car, squirted acid in his face and punched him before getting back in the car which was driven off by Storey.
The incident left Darren with serious and life changing injuries.
DI Chris Rose said: "I am pleased that the jury have found Russell and Storey guilty of this appalling and unprovoked attack.
"This has been a long and difficult investigation for Darren and his family and I hope that this verdict can provide them with an element of closure and the knowledge that justice has been done.
"It should also send a message to anyone considering carrying out this type of crime that they will be found and put before the courts."
Prosecutors have welcomed the sentence.
Senior district crown prosecutor for CPS East of England, Punam Malhan said: “The victim in this case, Darren Pidgeon, suffered third degree burns to the right side of his face, shoulder, forearm and wrist – around 5% of his total body surface area.
“This was an horrendous attack, leaving Mr Pidgeon with injuries which required skin grafts and he will be left with lifelong scarring.
“The prosecution case was that the attack happened after Ms Storey, who was the driver, followed Mr Pidgeon’s car into a cul-de-sac and blocked him in. Mr Russell, who was a passenger in her car, then got out and squirted acid at Mr Pidgeon through his open car window.
“There was no reason for what Mr Russell did to Mr Pidgeon and his cowardly use of acid as a weapon left Mr Pidgeon screaming in agony.
“This is the second successful prosecution for an acid attack in Essex in five months and we will do all we can to prosecute these cases robustly and bring those who carry out these despicable attacks to justice.
“I would like to thank Mr Pidgeon for his bravery in giving evidence and reliving what must have been a traumatic experience. I hope the verdicts of the jury can give him some satisfaction that justice has been done.”