Man scarred by acid attack 'sickened' as attacker moves to open prison

Father left blind in one eye when acid was thrown in his face in case of mistaken identity says he is ‘sickened’ as attacker is moved to open prison after just FIVE YEARS behind bars

  • Andreas Christopheros, 34, was scarred for life after horrific acid attack in 2014
  • David Phillips travelled 300 miles to Truro, Cornwall to conduct revenge attack
  • He admitted GBH and was jailed for life in 2015 in shock mistaken identity case
  • Judges slashed sentence to 16 years and Phillips is now enjoying open prison
  • Mr Christopheros is ‘sickened’ that his attacker is applying for day release  

A father disfigured for life after a pint of acid was thrown in his face is ‘sickened’ that his attacker is now enjoying open prison after spending just five years behind bars. 

Andreas Christopheros, 34, was blinded in one eye and permanently scarred after David Phillips hurled sulphuric acid in his face at his home in December 2014.

Phillips had travelled more than 300 miles from his home in Hastings, East Sussex to Truro, Cornwall seeking revenge – but turned up at the wrong address.

He admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent and was jailed for life at Truro Crown Court in October 2015 after a judge rule he was a danger to the public.

But the attacker, 53, had his jail term slashed to 16 years by the Court of Appeal in 2016 and became eligible for parole after serving just eight. 

In a stinging rebuke of the UK justice system, Mr Christopheros said he is ‘sickened’ that Phillips has been moved to open prison and is applying for day release less than six years after the horrific assault – and after Phillips spent just five years in jail.

The property developer added that the move to treat Phillips in a way he considers to be lenient ‘just doesn’t add up’ and resents that his attacker can seek employment again while he is left ‘picking up the pieces of what he (Phillips) did to me’. 

Mr Christopheros’ intervention comes ahead of a radical Government overhaul of the justice system in England and Wales, with tough new plans to slap terrorists, rapists and other violent offenders with longer prison sentences to be unveiled today.

‘How can (Phillips) be out? Yes he’s at an open prison, but he can go out and enjoy the sunshine, go out and spend time with his family,’ he told Sky News. 

Andreas Christopheros, 34, was blinded in one eye and permanently scarred after David Phillips hurled sulphuric acid in his face at his home in December 2014 

Mr Christopheros said he is ‘sickened’ that Phillips has been moved to open prison and is applying for day release after Phillips spent just five years in jail 

‘It became very obvious that in the UK, you can throw a pint of sulphuric acid in someone’s face, ruin their life, cost them physically, emotionally, mentally, cost the state hundreds of thousands if not millions in hospital fees and police investigation, and only spend five and a half years behind actual bars. It just doesn’t add up.’

Phillips had travelled 300 miles to Mr Christopheros’ address in December 2014 wanting revenge on a man accused of sexually assaulting someone close to him, Truro Crown Court heard at the time of his sentencing. 

He threw a pint of concentrated sulphuric acid in the unsuspecting father’s face as Mr Christopheros, who was working from home, answered a knock on the door – thinking he was about to collect a Christmas parcel. 

Mr Christopheros recalled that his attacker said: ‘This is for you mate’.

‘He was stood two steps down from my doorstep so he threw it in an upright motion so the acid came up, hit the ceiling above me, raining down my back,’ he said.

‘My t-shirt disintegrated from top to bottom and was just hanging on my arms like a waistcoat. That was the moment I knew it was acid.’

David Phillips had travelled more than 300 miles from his home in Hastings, East Sussex to Truro, Cornwall seeking revenge in December 2014 – but turned up at the wrong address

He added that ‘every aspect’ of his life has been affected by the ghastly attack, including the way he sleeps and the time he spends with his sons. 

Mr Christopheros was at his home when he opened the door to Phillips who said ‘This is for you’ before throwing concentrated sulphuric acid over him. The acid was so strong his t-shirt ‘disintegrated immediately’ and damaged the house floor and hallway

‘There isn’t one aspect that hasn’t been affected, even sleeping,’ Mr Christopheros said. ‘I’m not the person I was before the attack.

‘In a way the old me died when (Phillips) did what he did to me, and I’ve had to reinvent myself into something that worked for my injuries.’ 

Phillips’ life sentence was slashed to 16 years after judges ruled that it was ‘wrong’ for the attacker to be condemned as a significant threat to the public.

Changes to the law which came into force in November 2018 now make the possession of sulphuric acid above 15 per cent a criminal offence, with offenders facing a two-year prison sentence and an unlimited fine.  

A Government spokesman told MailOnline that prisoners held in open conditions are under strict conditions and will be returned to custody if they breach them.   

‘Acid attacks devastate lives and leave victims with both emotional and physical scars and our thoughts remain with Mr Christopheros,’ the spokesman said.

‘Since this appalling case, we have made it an offence to carry these substances in public, banned their sale to under-18s, and brought in minimum custodial sentences to ensure the cowards who use acids as weapons face the full force of the law.’ 

Today, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland is unveiling plans to give judges the power to hand 18 to 20-year-olds whole life sentences amid an outcry that one of the Manchester terrorist bombers avoided this sentence because of his age. 

The revamp will also beef up non-custodial community sentences, including 20-hour-a-day curfews and the use of satellite monitoring for convicted burglars. 

Mr Buckland has said he wants to make ‘radical and meaningful’ changes to crime sentencing, telling the BBC: ‘I want to change this system. 

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland announced a major overhaul of sentencing that will see 18 to 20-year-olds become eligible for whole life sentences

‘And with the help of the probation service, which we’re increasing in capacity, I believe that we can deliver a really balanced system of sentencing that means that we protect the public from serious offenders but also offer meaningful rehabilitation for those who want to take that opportunity.’ 

The worst sex and violent offenders can already receive a life sentence. The change sees convicts sentenced to between four and seven years made to serve two-thirds of sentences instead of being eligible for release on licence at the halfway stage.

Former Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Helen Newlove, whose husband was beaten to death by three teenagers in 2007, welcomed the bill, but called for more.

She told GMB this morning: ‘It is something I will fight for in the House of Lords when this comes through, but we’ve got to ensure that there’s legal rights for victims, survivors and their families. I think its been shown recently, with PC Harper’s widow Lissie, that’s shown how the system actually is broken.’ 

Measures included in today’s Sentencing White Paper

Whole life orders for child killers, including the ability for judges to hand out this maximum punishment to 18-20 year-olds in exceptional cases.

New powers to halt the automatic release of offenders who pose a terrorism risk or are a danger to the public.

Ending the release of offenders sentenced to four-seven years at the halfway point, instead requiring them to serve two-thirds of their term.

Longer minimum sentences for 15-17 year-old murderers.

Prisoners sentenced to life will serve longer before being eligible for parole.

Using ‘sobriety tags’ to clampdown on alcohol-related crimes.

Using GPS to track burglars, robbers and thieves when they are released from prison.

Last month the brother of the Manchester Arena bomber was jailed for 55 years – the longest minimum life term in history.

Justice Jeremy Baker told the hearing Hashem Abedi ‘may never be released’ but it was revealed the mass murderer could not face a ‘whole life tariff’ despite being found guilty in England’s biggest terror trial because he was under 21 when he helped his brother plot the bomb attack. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already said the reforms will make it easier for ‘judges to put dangerous offenders behind bars for longer’.

But the package, covering in England and Wales, will also include measures at the lower end of the sentencing spectrum.

Community sentences given to offenders instead of prison will be made tougher by doubling the length of time offenders can be subject to curfew restrictions to two years.

The orders can be made more flexible to help offenders keep their jobs, for example by having fewer restrictions from Monday to Friday but then stricter curfews of up to 20 hours at weekends.

In an effort to tackle reoffending, for the first time GPS electronic location monitoring will be routinely used to track burglars, robbers and thieves when they are released from prison.

The technology will allow probation to monitor an offender’s whereabouts and, if appropriate, share this data with the police.

For criminals who stay out of trouble, the requirement to routinely disclose offences to employers for non-sensitive roles will be reduced.

Custodial sentences of up to a year will become spent after a further 12 months without reoffending, instead of four years, while terms of one-to-four years will no longer be disclosed after four crime-free years – down from seven.

Sentences of more than four years will not automatically be disclosed to employers once a seven-year period of rehabilitation has been served, instead of for the rest of an offender’s life. 

Mr Buckland said: ‘For too long our justice system has been beset by complex and confusing laws which the public often feel fail in their most essential aims – to keep them safe and properly punish offenders.

‘That ends today. This White Paper is the first step in a fundamental shift in our approach to sentencing, towards one that is fairer, smarter and ultimately better protects the public.

‘Our measures will ensure the most serious violent and sexual offenders get the prison time they deserve, while new community interventions and changes to rules around criminal records will help boost rehabilitation and cut reoffending – which means creating fewer victims.’

The Government has set a target of 20,000 extra police officers but Mr Johnson told the Cabinet on Tuesday that ‘there’s no point in catching the criminals if they are simply going to be let out early’.

He said: ‘We have seen far too many cases recently of criminals being let out early and then offending again and the judges being unable to impose the stiff sentences that they want and that society wants because of the restrictive guidelines that they face.’ 

He told ministers that he wanted ‘sensible approaches to sentencing, making it easier for judges to put dangerous offenders behind bars for longer’. 

He promised to end the ‘ridiculous state of affairs whereby a criminal can just get back out onto the streets even when it is clear to everybody – including the court – that they pose a threat to justice and a threat to the British public’.

‘That includes longer sentences for child killers, lowering the age limit on whole-life tariffs for the worst offenders and locking (up) for longer more of the most violent criminals before they can apply for parole,’ he said.

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