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Woman dies after being splashed with acid by feuding strangers

Woman dies after being splashed with acid by feuding strangers

London – A mother who was unwittingly caught up in a dispute between two other people died after being splashed with acid as she sat on a bench near her daughter’s grave, a court has heard.

Joanne Rand, a nurse, had just visited the graveyard and was about to have a cigarette when she was hit with the high-strength sulphuric acid last June.

She screamed in pain and ran to a nearby KFC to pour water over herself after the incident on a Saturday afternoon in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Reading Crown Court heard.

She was treated and briefly discharged from hospital after suffering up to 5 per cent burns on her body.

But Miss Rand, died from multi-organ failure on June 14 – 11 days after the incident – after being struck down with septicaemia due to the acid burns, the court heard.

Xeneral Webster, 19, denies her murder.

Prosecutor Alison Hunter QC told the jury that the defendant had been in a dispute with another male, Saqib Hussain, from whom he was trying to wrest a bicycle.

The judge said CCTV footage showed Webster reaching into his satchel for a bottle of acid.

She said: ‘What he produced next is an open-topped bottle of acid and he makes to throw it towards Mr Hussain. And he said to Mr Hussain, “This is acid.”

‘At this moment Mr Hussain, panicking, knocks the acid out of Mr Webster’s hand.’ The bottle rolled and hit Miss Rand, who was sitting on the bench a few metres away, the prosecutor said.

The victim ‘instantly noticed that her hair was wet and that her face had begun to burn’, she added.

Webster was captured on CCTV putting on a balaclava before cycling back to the bench where Miss Rand had been sitting to pick up the acid bottle, the court heard.

He later discarded the bottle and the bike before getting the train home to London, the jury was told.

The judge said: ‘That Joanne Rand was not Mr Webster’s intended victim on June 3, 2017 makes no difference in law to his culpability for her death, because it arises in these circumstances where he was intending to unlawfully kill or at least cause GBH to another.’

She said Webster knew the consequences of having acid in a public place, having been the victim of an acid attack himself.

The defendant admitted being involved in an altercation, saying it occurred because he had been sold the drug Spice, which covers a range of synthetic cannabinoids, instead of cannabis, the court heard.

But he denied possessing the bottle of acid, the jury was told.

Webster, of Banstead Court, Westway, west London, denies six charges dated between April and June last year.

He faces a murder charge and an alternative count of manslaughter, as well as possession of a bottle of acid, possession of a bottle of ammonia, attempted GBH with intent and robbery of a bicycle.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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