Screwdriver wielding robber jailed for 18 years for pouring acid on 69-year-old woman in her Goodmayes home during attack spree
- Credit: Archant
A crack addled thug, who went on a terrifying two day robbery spree and poured acid over a 69-year-old woman in her home, has been jailed for 18 years.
Gerard Whelan, 44, of Penfold Place, Paddington, marauded around Ilford and Goodmayes on December 12 and 13 last year, armed with a screwdriver and noxious chemicals in a spray can.
Today at Wood Green Crown Court he was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, with a further three years on licence, for 12 different offences.
On the first day of his rampage Whelan stole money after threatening a 90-year-old pensioner in his home, drove off in a mother’s car while her daughter was still inside, and sprayed chemicals at a women and ripped her handbag off her.
The last victim was forced to move out of Ilford, as she did not feel safe, and said in a statement that was read out in court: “Most nights I cry myself to sleep.
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“I scream in my sleep so loudly I wake up my husband and kids.”
She has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by her GP.
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Whelan’s most brutal assault was on December 13, in Westwood Road, Goodmayes.
He woke a 69-year-old woman up in her sleep, and threatened her with a screwdriver saying: “If you don’t be quiet I will kill you.”
When she tried to escape he squeezed what the police believe was sulphuric acid over her.
He also threatened her with a large frying pan, and she said she thought “he was going to kill me”.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said: “I was a 69-year-old woman and he was a young man, why was he doing this to me?”
She suffered burns to 24 per cent of her body, and has had to undergo multiple skin grafts during an eight week stay in hospital.
After these attacks the Recorder put up an appeal, which police said helped lead to Whelan’s arrest.
Defending, Julia Flanagan, explained that Whelan’s daughter had died in 2002, and after the break up of his marriage he became addicted to drugs and alcohol.
On the days of the incidents he had taken crack cocaine, numerous prescription drugs and he was also drunk.
Ms Flanagan said he owed a debt to drug dealers.
Mr Whelan admitted the offences at a hearing in July, and a psychologist’s report read out in court showed he had remorse for his crimes.
Sentencing Judge Joanna Greenberg said: “Arming yourself with a screwdriver and corrosive liquid it demonstrates a degree of planning in which you clearly set out to and expected to terrorise your victims.
“What you did must have engendered great fear in all of your victims and, in the case of two who have made victim impact statements, resulted in life-changing physical and psychological damage.”
Speaking about the acid assault on December 13, she added: “To put it simply you have ruined her [the victim’s] life.”
Judge Greenberg sentenced Whelan to each of the 12 counts to run concurrently – which included several similar offences which occured on Christmas Day last year in Enfield.
She handed Whelan a total jail term of 18 years, with a further three years to be served on licence due to the level of violence he showed.
He is eligible for release after 12 years pending good behaviour.
London CPS reviewing lawyer Lily Saw said: “This was a horrific use of acid during a burglary. Gerard Whelan’s victim was forced to undergo skin grafts and operations. She will be scarred for life.
“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.
“But carrying acid or another corrosive substance as a weapon could lead to a prison sentence of up to four years even if it is not used, and throwing acid, even if the target is missed, could lead to a life sentence.”