Birmingham & Black Country

Acid victim: Vikki Horsman's life 'destroyed' by ex

Vikki Horsman
Image caption Vikki Horsman said no matter how long the trio are sentenced to, they have scarred her for life

A young woman who had acid thrown in her face for splitting up from her 80-year-old boyfriend says her life has been destroyed.

Mohammed Rafiq, from Smethwick in the West Midlands, paid £50 for two men to throw sulphuric acid over Vikki Horsman, causing 8% burns.

He has been jailed for 18 years for inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent in April.

Ms Horsman, now 20, said Rafiq had become "controlling and paranoid".

Shannon Heaps, 23, and Steven Holmes, 25, were jailed for 12 years and 18 years respectively at Wolverhampton Crown Court for causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Skin 'lifted'

Rafiq had denied masterminding the attack on Ms Horsman at her friend's house in Tividale, West Midlands, in retaliation for her ending the pair's relationship.

Recalling the attack, Ms Horsman told BBC News she was with Rafiq when someone knocked at the front door.

Rafiq told her it was a man to see her and, after she opened the door, a man in a hooded top and bandana handed her a parcel before throwing the corrosive liquid over her.

She suffered burns to her neck, face, left arm, right shoulder, an ear and splashes on her legs.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Vikki Horsman suffered burns to several areas of her body

Ms Horsman said she thought "it was the end" and could feel her skin lifting "layer by layer".

"Straight away, it was a piercing, burning sensation," she said.

"I could just feel my airways going tight, my lips blistering and just swelling... agonising pain. I had no idea what was happening."

She said she ran to look in a mirror then into the kitchen to splash water on her face.

She spent two weeks in hospital before Rafiq, who suffered burns to his legs, came to visit her. His late visit, along with her friend telling her about his strange behaviour, made her suspicious he was involved.

"He just didn't seem himself and from who they arrested previously, I didn't believe it was them," she said.

'All for pennies'

Ms Horsman said she was 18 when she first met Rafiq. He was, she added, "really supportive" towards her after she lost her parents and a third relative to illness in quick succession.

But the good Samaritan in him changed and he became more controlling once she passed her driving test and he bought her a car, she said.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Mohammed Rafiq, Steven Holmes and Shannon Heaps had denied plotting to harm Ms Horsman

"At times it [our relationship] did get to me but then after losing three of the closest people to me, I didn't have nobody so [it was] more of a case of I needed somebody, not wanted somebody," she said.

Ms Horsman said she was not coerced or groomed by Rafiq and although she converted to Islam she has since reverted to her previous beliefs.

Eight months on from the attack, she said she cannot bear to look at her scars and still suffers flashbacks.

Doctors have told her she faces years of reconstructive surgery and Ms Horsman is still struggling to come to terms with the attack.

"Just for the sake of £50," she said.

"They can hurl that sort of stuff at somebody and just destroy someone's life in a matter of seconds... all for pennies?"

"No matter how long they get inside, they have scarred me for life.

"I'm the one doing the life sentence, not them."

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