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Paddington man jailed for 18 years after 'horrifying' attacks

PUBLISHED: 15:05 25 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:06 25 September 2017

Burglar Gerard Whelan from Paddington sprayed acid at a 69-year-old woman in her own home and carried out a “horrifying” series of noxious substance enabled robberies. He has been jailed for 18 years. Picture: MET POLICE

Burglar Gerard Whelan from Paddington sprayed acid at a 69-year-old woman in her own home and carried out a "horrifying" series of noxious substance enabled robberies. He has been jailed for 18 years. Picture: MET POLICE

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A burglar who sprayed acid at a woman in her own home and carried out "horrifying" attacks during a string of robberies has been jailed.

Whelan's 69-year-old victim suffered burns to a quarter of her body and had to undergo skin grafts and surgeries, with permanent scars to her arms, legs, body and face. Picture: MET POLICEWhelan's 69-year-old victim suffered burns to a quarter of her body and had to undergo skin grafts and surgeries, with permanent scars to her arms, legs, body and face. Picture: MET POLICE

Over the course of three days Gerald Whelan of Penfold Place, Paddington, mounted attacks across the capital.

Wood Green Crown Court heard how Whelan squeezed acid onto one woman, 69, in a burglary in Westwood Road, Ilford, on December 13. He broke into her home as she slept. When she woke he was holding a screwdriver over her saying: “If you don’t be quiet I will kill you.”

He took a bangle and rings from her arm before rifling through kitchen cupboards. When she tried to escape he squeezed acid onto her, breaking her little finger in a struggle for the screwdriver.

She suffered burns to a quarter of her body and had to undergo skin grafts with permanent scars to her arms, legs, body and face.

The acid was found to be of the same strength as sulphuric acid. Picture: MET POLICEThe acid was found to be of the same strength as sulphuric acid. Picture: MET POLICE

The day before the 45-year-old carried out a string of offences including taking £190 from an 89-year-old woman he threatened with a screwdriver after breaking into her home.

He went on to attack a 62-year-old man and tried to rob a mother of a car as she was dropping her daughter off at school before then spraying liquid at a man in a bid to steal another vehicle.

In a further assault the cells on the surface of a 38-year-old woman’s eye were burnt off after he threw a substance at her when he tried to take her bag. And on Christmas Day Whelan posed as a policeman before spraying a substance into the eye of a 36-year-old man sitting in his car in Goring Road, Bounds Green.

He went on to hit a second man, 62, in Moffatt Road four times with the butt of a screwdriver while trying to get the keys to another car and assaulted a 58-year-old woman, throwing her to the ground after she had started the engine of her car and hitting her with a crutch.

DS Brett Hagen, said: “The length of the sentence reflects the gravity and callous nature of these attacks. Whelan embarked on a series of horrifying offences against a raft of innocent and vulnerable people, many of whom were lucky not to incur serious injury.

“But several victims sustained life changing injuries. One elderly lady spent over eight weeks in hospital and now, some nine months later, still hasn’t returned to work or regained full mobility.”

Det Supt Mike West said: “This is a message to anyone who seeks to cause another person harm with a corrosive substance who thinks we don’t have existing laws to tackle such attacks.

“We will put everything we have in to supporting members of our communities who report these crimes, we will track you down and we will make sure you have the same severe sentences, as Gerard Whelan got today,” he added.

Whelan got 18 years after admitting to grievous bodily harm with intent at his trial in July.

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