80-year-old arranges acid attack in Britain

Converted: Vikki Horsman, 19, who converted to Islam for 80-year-old Mohammed Rafiq, had acid thrown in her face after he allegedly arranged for the liquid to be hurled over her as she answered the door.

Converted: Vikki Horsman, 19, who converted to Islam for 80-year-old Mohammed Rafiq, had acid thrown in her face after he allegedly arranged for the liquid to be hurled over her as she answered the door.

A scarred acid attack victim told a court Tuesday of the horrific moment she had the liquid thrown in her face by a masked man in an assault allegedly arranged by her 80-year-old Muslim ex-lover.

Vikki Horsman, 20, was left horribly burned and disfigured after she was doused with the sulphuric acid as she went to answer the door at her friend's house in Tividale, West Midlands.

Her pensioner ex-lover, Mohammed Rafiq, is accused of arranging the attack in revenge for Miss Horsman, who had converted to Islam during their relationship, breaking up with him.

Miss Horsman told Wolverhampton Crown Court that she had 'peeked around the corner of the porch door' to a hooded male caller wearing a bandana across his face who then threw the liquid directly at her on April 15 this year.

Vikki is pictured arriving at court, where the scars on her neck could be seen.

Vikki is pictured arriving at court, where the scars on her neck could be seen.

Speaking at the trial of Rafiq and two other men accused of carrying out the attack, she described how she was left 'screaming' as the acid hit her, and had glimpsed her blistering face and neck as she stumbled back into the house, hurriedly dousing herself with cold water from the kitchen tap.

Earlier, she had described the breakdown of her relationship with Rafiq, more than six times her senior, who she had been sleeping with since she was 18.

Rafiq, whom she had known six years, had bought her a car, but became increasingly 'very controlling' she told the court.

'He often accused me of cheating on him,' she said.

Miss Horsman, who now suffers 'terrible' scarring across her face and neck, met Rafiq in 2010 through a friend, shortly after her mother, father and grandmother died within a short period of time. 

She told the jury of seven women and five men how she had 'pressure put on me' from Rafiq to convert to Islam, and change her name to Aleena Rafiq in November 2013.

The nursing home carer - who has since changed her name back - ended the relationship a month later at Christmas because Rafiq was becoming 'too controlling'.

But the pensioner continued to see the teenager as a friend and started to treat her 'like a daughter' instead, a jury was told.

Anthony Warner, prosecuting, asked Miss Horsman if had converted to Islam willingly, and she replied 'not particularly'. 

The change meant only eating halal food, adopting Muslim prayers and changing the way she dressed as she chose to wear a headscarf.

However, the accusations of cheating continued and after matters came to a head in early 2014 when Rafiq went through her personal belongings, she decided to end their relationship.

Asked by Mr Warner how the older man had taken the news, she said: 'He got very angry.

'He still thought we were in a relationship even though I had ended things.'

Rafiq is alleged to have arranged for a lone man to turn up to the home Miss Horsman shared with her friend, Kerry Stevens, to carry out the horrific attack on Miss Horsman, who was 19 at the time.

Ms Stevens, 36, was another of Rafiq's ex-girlfriends, and the court was told she had been in a relationship with him when she was 16. 

Describing the attack, Miss Horsman said that Rafiq had been with her at the house, dog-sitting, where she was going to get some sleep before starting her nightshift at work.

She was removing her contact lenses in the upstairs bathroom, when she heard 'a knock at the door and muffled voices'.

Rafiq told her it was 'a man for you', she said, but as she opened the front door she was confronted by a man 'in a grey hoodie, a bandana over his face, and his hood up'. 

'I went out into the porch and shut the door behind me,' she said. 'I looked outside and that was when I saw the gentleman standing there.

'He was stood to the left as you look out. He had a bandana over his face and a hood, so I could only see his eyes.

'He asked if I was Vikki, I said yes and that was when the substance was thrown over me. I felt a burning in my face and lips.

'I ran to the mirror to see what was happening.

'Then I ran to the kitchen, and splashed water over my face to try and get rid of it.

'I tried to call an ambulance but they couldn't understand what I was saying, I was just screaming.

'I asked Mohammed to call them and give them the address. I can't remember him doing anyone else.

'I was splashing water on my face. Mohammed gave me a bottle of water as I could feel it burning inside my mouth.'

Prompted by questions about her recollections, Miss Horsman told the jury she had been placed under sedation in intensive care for five days following the attack, and also underwent surgery.

She described the moment the acid splashed her as 'just instant burning - piercing pain', affecting her face, neck, ears and shoulder.

Rafiq's QC, Anthony Berry, asked Ms Horsman if she could remember where his client had been immediately before the moment she suffered what he called the "hideous and frightening injury".

'I suggest that at the point when you came down the stairs, although he may have been sat when you first came in, he was then at the bottom of the stairs and to your right,' he added.

But she replied: 'No, I can remember him sat.'

Later Mr Berry put it to the victim that Rafiq had been standing with her in the porch just before she opened the door to the attacker.

But Miss Horsman again said: 'No, I remember opening the door myself.'

Mr Berry then asked Miss Horsman about her health when she had made her statement to police, just eight days after the attack and having only just come out of sedation.

She replied: 'I was not feeling too good. I was in a lot of pain.'

Mr Berry described that as 'an admirable understatement'.

Later, when she was re-examined by Mr Warner, she said she remembered seeing Rafiq 'standing by the living room window' as she reeled away from the attack.

The jury also heard from Ms Stevens who told how she had been in a four-year sexual relationship with the older man from when she was just 16.

She disclosed that the mortgage on the house she currently lived in, where the attack on Miss Horsman took place, was half in the name of Rafiq's son after stepped in over her financial 'difficulties'.

Ms Stevens recalled the older man's 'upset' when Ms Horsman told him the relationship was over, early in 2014.

She added the victim's family had make it clear they did not approve of the arrangement, and 'had been messaging him (Rafiq) saying she was down there with them eating bacon sandwiches and drinking alcohol'.

Terror: Miss Horsman described the moment the acid splashed her as 'just instant burning - piercing pain', affecting her face, neck, ears and shoulder

Later, the row over the relationship came to a head when an 'angry' Rafiq discovered a used condom in Miss Horsman's bedside drawer.

Ms Stevens, asked about Rafiq's reaction, claimed he told Miss Horsman: 'They're your condoms, there's only you - I don't use them."

The 36-year-old said he told her he no longer trusted Miss Horsman, claiming she 'was sleeping with other people and sleeping with her cousin'.

Her response was to tell the pensioner to accept the relationship was over, telling him 'you've got grandchildren older than her, let her get on with her life'.

However, on the subject of Miss Horsman's conversion to Islam, she also contradicted her friend's evidence that Rafiq had put her under pressure, saying: 'I tried to talk her out of it, as I didn't think she was ready - but she was adamant.'

The court also heard that Rafiq claimed he was just 45 when was dating Miss Horsman, although she said she didn't believe him. 

The Crown says Rafiq, of Smethwick, West Midlands, became unhappy with Miss Horsman’s increasing independence and increasingly 'obsessed' with her movements, even going through her personal possessions. 

Rafiq, who was also in the house at the time of the attack, is accused of planning the vicious assault along with Steven Holmes, 25, and 22-year-old Shannon Heaps. 

Mr Warner said when Rafiq answered the front door of the house he called Miss Horsman to come downstairs to the front door telling her that there was a man there for her.

'The caller to the address was in fact Steven Holmes. Vikki was not expecting any callers that afternoon, unlike Mohammed Rafiq who certainly was.

'She went to the front bedroom window because she wasn't expecting anybody but the porch was in the way. She could see that the front door was just open and there was a man when she opened the door, Steven Holmes.

'He held out to her a green carrier bag, she went to take hold of it but when she went to take hold of it he didn't let go and then a black liquid was thrown over her.

'It hit her face, her neck, and she screamed out loud and felt a terrible burning pain and saw her face and neck was blistering by looking in the mirror.

He added: 'Rafiq may not have bargained for the fact that in her terror some of the black liquid would be transferred to him but it was and he himself received some injuries.'

The pensioner, from Smethwick, West Midlands, met with the two other defendents shortly before the attack and soon after, the court heard.

On the following afternoon, he picked up Holmes, also from Smethwick, in his Audi TT.

Two friends who witnessed them together said they later saw Heaps pass Holmes a green carrier bag containing a bottle before Rafiq drove off leaving the four men alone.

Mr Warner added: 'Fortunately the paramedics and ambulance did arrive quite quickly.

'She (Miss Horsman) was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and she was taken immediately to theatre for cleaning and dressing of wounds.

'She was taken to intensive care, the dressing was removed the next day revealing deep areas of burning to the chest, upper neck and left upper arm.

Miss Horseman spent days there and was on a ventilator at one stage.

She was taken to theatre again on April 22 for the first application of skin grafts taken from her right thigh.

She will require intensive scar management and occupational therapy for years and possibly further surgery. 

Rafiq, Holmes and Heaps all deny one charge of inflicting GBH with intent and Rafiq also denies a further charge of perverting the course of justice.

The trial continues. 

(source)

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