Thug pleads guilty to brutal Goodmayes acid attack spree that scarred 69-year-old woman for life

Westwood Road, Goodmayes. Picture: Google Street View

Westwood Road, Goodmayes. Picture: Google Street View - Credit: Archant

A burglar who sprayed acid at a woman in her Goodmayes home, causing her serious burns, has been convicted of a series of offences involving noxious liquids.

Gerard Whelan, 45, admitted grievous bodily harm with intent after squeezing acid from a white bottle onto the 69-year-old woman during a night-time burglary in her Westwood Road home on December 13 last year.

She suffered burns to 24pc of her body and had to undergo skin grafts and surgeries, with permanent scars to her arms, legs, body and face.

The acid used was found to be the same strength as sulphuric acid.

Whelan, of Penfold Place, Paddington, also admitted aggravated burglary at the same hearing, which took place on July 14 at Wood Green Crown Court.

He will be sentenced on 22 September at Wood Green Crown Court for these and a number of other offences carried out on two other days in December, several of which also involved squeezing liquid from a bottle onto victim’s faces or bodies.

Crown Prosecution Service reviewing lawyer Lily Saw said: “Whelan’s use of acid in this burglary shows him to be an extremely dangerous individual.

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“His victim was hospitalised for eight weeks in extreme pain.

“She had to undergo numerous operations, skin grafts and has been left severely scarred for the rest of her life and suffering emotional trauma. Despite this she was able to support the prosecution and pick Whelan out in an identity parade.

“The strength of the acid destroyed the flooring, carpets, a sofa and a door in her home.

“Whelan must now face the consequences of his devastating actions.”

Whelan had broken into his victim’s home as she slept.

When she woke up he was holding a screwdriver over her as she lay in her bed saying: “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 had broken into a home in Lynford Gardens, also in Goodmayes – 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.

The man was wearing a jacket and escaped without injury.

Whelan also stole a woman’s car as she was dropping her daughter off at school, attempting to spray her with liquid but missing.

He drove off in her car.

Another man was squirted with liquid by Whelan after he lowered the window of his car experiencing a burning sensation to his mouth and eyes.

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. Although there was no permanent damage the cells on the surface of her eye had completely gone.

He also attempted to throw the liquid at her husband when he tried to intervene.

Later that month, Whelan went on another rampage in Enfield, were he again threw noxious liquids at innocent and unsuspecting members of the public.

Police officers were able to link him to this separate spate of attacks by DNA traces left on a crutch he had used during one of the attacks.