Hebburn attacker blinded childhood pal with ammonia during street row

Liam Liddle
Liam Liddle

An attacker left his friend with permanent blindness when he threw ammonia in his face during a row in the street.

An attacker left his friend with permanent blindness when he threw ammonia in his face during a row in the street.

Newcastle Crown Court.

Newcastle Crown Court.

Liam Liddle caused chemical burns to both of Robert Little's eyes when he used the potent substance as a weapon.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the two men had been friends since childhood but trouble erupted during a night at Mr Little's home last May.

The argument resulted in Mr Little chasing his pal away from the house with a stick - and receiving life changing injuries in return.

Mr Little has regained his sight in one eye but has very poor vision in the other, which remains red and bloodshot.

His condition is not expected to improve unless pioneering treatment, which is still in the research stages, becomes available in the future.

Liddle, of South Street, Hebburn, who has previous convictions and was out on licence from a previous prison sentence, admitted causing grievous bodily harm and having an offensive weapon.

The 21-year-old, who appeared in the dock handcuffed, was sentenced to three years and three months behind bars.

Judge Tim Gittins told him: "You produced that ammonia liquid from your pocket, you sprayed him with it and it hit him squarely in the face, causing immediate, serious burns to both eyes.

"It should have been obvious to you that carrying such a potent substance and using it in that way could disfigure or permanently disable someone, as in fact it did.

"I hope in time, if and when you mature, you reflect on the permanent damage you have done in these few moments and it is on your conscience.

"You have effected a life so dramatically for such a meaningless argument."

The court heard Mr Little's left eye was temporarily blind but the sight has started to restore. It is the left eye which requires "groundbreaking" treatment to fix.

Mr Little told police he suffered "significant pain" in the attack ans said in a victim statement: "I will suffer for the rest of my life.

"He didn't have to spray me, I had stopped running toward shim and I feel I was no longer a threat."

When Liddle was arrested he told police: "I hope he's getting done aswell, he hit me first, with a bat.

"When I get out of prison I am going to smash his face in."

Liddle confessed he had been carrying the ammonia to use in the preparation of crack cocaine.

Paul Currer, defending, said the men had been taking cocaine together before the violence erupted .

Mr Currer said Liddle had been unable to run away due to a road accident which left him with a limp.

He added: "He regrets the impact his stupidity has had on the life of Mr Little.

"He would like very much the opportunity of speaking to Mr Little to apologise in person.

"He did not dispute this will have a lifelong impact on the quality of Mr Little's life, that is something he is genuinely concerned about.

"He knows he has been stupid. Had he not been taking drink and drugs this is something that would ever have happened, he would never have reacted to his friend in that way."