VICIOUS thugs who threw ammonia into the face of a vulnerable man have been jailed for a combined 18 years.

Nathan Stanford and Ashley Nelson broke into the home in Lonsdale Road, Southend, armed with a knife, stick and two Lucozade bottles full of diluted ammonia before hurling it into the eyes of the homeowner.

Stanford, 27, of Carswell Gardens, Wickford has been jailed for ten years.

Nelson, 31, of no fixed abode has been jailed for eight after causing permanent damage to the sight of the victim.

The pair were jailed at Basildon Crown Court yesterday following the aggravated burglary on February 2 last year.

Judge Ian Graham said: “At 2am, the homeowner was woken up by the sound of you two entering his house.

“He got up and found two men on the stairs.

“Both were doubly armed and had containers. One had a knife and one had a stick.

“The liquid was thrown in his face and he was also struck.

“The homeowner fought back and had a rifle rest to hand which he threw down the stairs before all three of you fell down the stairs. You then ran away.”

The court heard the incident has left the victim with black spots and zig zags, also known as floaters, in his eyes and suffers from PTSD.

Due to bruising and swelling on his leg caused during the incident, a vital operation to treat his osteoarthritis was also cancelled and he has yet to have it rescheduled, leaving him less mobile.

He was also too frightened to live in his own home for seven weeks following the attack and had to move in with his daughter after suffering sleepless nights.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, he said: “It makes me feel sad that someone has done this to me.

“I’m frustrated I don’t understand why I was targeted.

“It has turned me into a nervous wreck and it’s upsetting I’m left with a permanent eye injury.”

Neither defendant has been able to explain the motive behind the attack but it is thought to have been a case of mistaken identity.

After initially denying the charges, on the first day of trial, Nelson admitted one count of aggravated burglary and one count of maliciously throwing a corrosive fluid with intent to maim or injure, which carries a maximum sentence of life.

Stanford, a graduate recruitment consultant, maintained he was innocent throughout but was convicted by a jury after a trial in October.

Judge Graham sentenced him to ten years for the burglary and five years for throwing the ammonia to run concurrently.

Nelson, a qualified fork lift driver and father-of-two, was sentenced to eight years for the burglary and five years for throwing the ammonia to run concurrently of each other but consecutive to a two-year sentence he is already serving for possession with intent to supply heroin and cocaine in April of this year.