Bleach attack 'felt like inhaling fire', victim recalls
- Credit: Suffolk Constabulary
A teenage drug dealer who squirted diluted bleach in the faces of three people in two separate incidents outside a shopping precinct has been jailed for more than two years.
Kyelan Conaty appeared before Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday for a sentencing hearing via video link from Norwich prison.
The 18-year-old, of Elm Drive, Walsham-le-Willows, had pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawfully and maliciously administering a poison, namely watered-down hydrogen peroxide, with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy, at an earlier hearing in December.
The offences happened seven days apart, on July 14 and July 21 last year, outside St Olaves Precinct, on the Howard Estate, in Bury St Edmunds.
On the first occasion, Conaty squirted hydrogen peroxide from a bottle onto two young women sitting in the front of a car outside the shops at about 9.30pm.
The court heard that Conaty had been attempting to fight two male rear seat passengers before squirting the contents of an unlabelled Lucozade bottle into the vehicle.
Despite being unable to see, the driver blindly steered the car away from the scene before pulling over and tumbling out, retching and in tears.
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In a victim impact statement, she said it felt like she was "inhaling fire".
Meanwhile, it took an hour before the other victim was able to see properly or breath comfortably again.
Both young women named the suspect as Conaty, who was arrested, questioned, and had been released under investigation when armed police were called to the same car park at St Olaves Precinct shortly after 6.40pm on Tuesday, July 21, following reports of an unknown liquid having been thrown in the face of a man in his 20s.
The victim, who had been with his partner at the time, was taken to hospital with minor injuries and discharged the same evening.
Hugh Vass, mitigating, said Conaty had, on that occasion, been "acting pre-emptively to ward off an attack".
Conaty also admitted possession of a small quantity of cannabis when arrested, as well as possession with intent to supply cocaine on March 15, 2019, when he and co-defendant Jack Hogg were stopped and searched by police.
Conaty was found with nine wraps of cocaine and a phone containing messages linking him to a local drug dealing line.
Hogg, 18, of Myrtlewood Road, Bury St Edmunds, was found with 12 wraps of cocaine in his underpants.
Police later found another wrap of cocaine and 0.4 grammes of cannabis in his bedroom.
Hogg admitted two counts of possession of cocaine and one count of possession of cannabis at an earlier hearing.
On Tuesday, before Conaty was sentenced, Hogg was handed a 12-month conditional discharge by Judge Emma Peters.
Sentencing Conarty to 26 months in a young offender institution, Judge Peters acknowledged he had lived "complex and disruptive childhood", but said it offered no excuse for "an horrific and frightening attack on two young women simply sitting innocently in their car".