Father in acid attack trial says co-accused offered ‘private investigators’
A father accused of plotting an acid attack on his three-year-old son has claimed in court that his co-accused offered to source “private investigators” for him.
The 40-year-old is on trial accused of conspiring with five other men and a woman to throw sulphuric acid on the boy in a shop attack, between June 1 and July 22, with intent to do harm.
The youngster, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, suffered serious burns to his face and arm at the Home Bargains store in Worcester on July 21 last year, during a parental custody dispute.
A trial jury at Worcester Crown Court has already been shown dramatic CCTV of the moment of the attack, and heard how the injured child screamed “I hurt” after being struck.
The Crown have alleged the father planned the attack in a bid to show his estranged wife was an “unfit” mother.
The father is facing the same charge as co-accused Adam Cech, 27, of Farnham Road, Birmingham, Jan Dudi, 25, of Cranbrook Road, Birmingham, and Norbert Pulko, 22, of Sutherland Road, London.
Martina Badiova, 22, of Newcombe Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, Saied Hussini, 42, of Wrottesley Road, London, and Jabar Paktia, 42, of Newhampton Road, Wolverhampton, are also on trial.
All deny any wrongdoing.
Giving evidence in his defence for the first time on Thursday, the boy’s father said he had been back in touch with former work colleague Paktia on or around July 1 2018.
He said the men had been discussing setting up a car wash but got talking about the father’s family breakdown, after his wife had walked out with his children in 2016.
The father, originally from Afghanistan, had hired a private investigator, telling the jury he did not trust his wife to look after the children.
But he claimed in court that when he told his old workmate about hiring investigators, Paktia had made him an “offer”.
The father said: “He told me that he knows somebody, to do the private investigation job at a cheaper rate – and better.”
Asked who that “somebody” was, the male replied: “Saied Hussini.”
The father accepted telephone evidence that he, Paktia and Hussini met at Paktia’s home in Wolverhampton, a short time later, on July 5.
He claimed that during a conversation lasting “an hour to an hour-and-a-half”, Hussini offered the services of “a lady and a man” to carry out “private investigation” on his wife.
His barrister, Phil Bradley QC, asked: “What offer of help did he (Hussini) make of you?”
The father replied: “The private investigation.”
Earlier in the trial, jurors were shown pictures appearing to show a man and a woman, Pulko and Badiova, with Hussini in the run-up to what the Crown have claimed was an “aborted” first attempted attack, eight days before the shop incident.
The father told jurors he had “never” been involved in planning an attack and was shocked to be arrested.
Asked by his barrister if he loved his children, he replied: “Of course, yes.”
He was asked: “In July last year, did you arrange for acid to be thrown at your son?”
Standing in the witness box wearing a white shirt and jeans and speaking through a Dari interpreter, the father replied: “No, never.”
He then told his barrister he only found out about the attack when arrested at his Wolverhampton home.
The boy’s father told the jury: “I was very shocked.”
Mr Bradley then asked: “Had you any idea that little boy was going to be attacked?”
The man replied “no”, and also denied knowing anyone might have been following his son with acid.
Jurors have also been told by the prosecution that Cech and Pulko’s mobile phones had both been “manually reset to factory settings”, prior to being seized by police.
The trial continues.