Father in acid attack trial told co-accused to ‘mark the child’, court told

An "obsessed" father accused of plotting an acid attack on his young son planned to "mark the child" in a bid to win back his estranged wife, a court heard.

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.

The 40-year-old man is charged with conspiring to unlawfully or maliciously cast or throw sulphuric acid on or at the boy between June 1 and July 22, with intent to burn, maim, disfigure or disable the minor, or do grievous bodily harm.

A trial jury at Worcester Crown Court has heard how the injured child screamed "I hurt", over and over again, after being struck.

The Crown has alleged the father "enlisted others" to attack the youngster, after his wife walked out on him, taking the children, in 2016.

POLICE Acid
Location of the acid attack in Worcester, in July 2018 (PA Graphics/PA)

Facing the same charge are Adam Cech, 27, of Farnham Road and Jan Dudi, 25, of Cranbrook Road, both Birmingham and Norbert Pulko, 22, of Sutherland Road, London.

Also accused are Martina Badiova, 22, of Newcombe Road, Handsworth, Birmingham; Jabar Paktia, 42, of Newhampton Road, Wolverhampton, and Saied Hussini, of Wrottesley Road, London.

They all deny the allegation.

At the start of his third day giving evidence, the father agreed with Hussini's barrister that after his wife had filed for divorce in August 2017, he had become "obsessed" with the outcome of family court proceedings.

On Monday, Lauren Soertsz also put several allegations to the father, based on conversations his 42-year-old co-accused alleged had happened between the two men.

Miss Soertsz asked about a discussion at Paktia's home, with Hussini, on July 5 2018.

She said: "What you said your solicitor had stated is that you should mark the child and then blame the mother."

The father, clean-shaven, stood in the dock in a white shirt, replied: "Never. I never said that.

"I would never talk about my children like that."

Worcester acid attack
CCTV footage from the Home Bargains store in Worcester (West Mercia Police)

Miss Soertsz then asked: "You said that the mother would be forced to abandon her divorce proceedings and return to you."

She added: "You knew if you got the children, she would never be separated from them and she would return to you.

"You had found somebody who could mark your child, with a sharp object."

He replied: "This is not the truth."

The father also denied showing Hussini a badminton racquet, which he kept in his car boot, adapted to have a "knife blade" in its wooden handle.

He also denied telling Hussini he would give the weapon to the person "to use to mark your child", and that he had found someone to carry out the job for £5,000.

The court heard how only weeks before the shop attack a final court hearing to determine custody for the children had been set for June 13, but was postponed.

However, a social worker's report, prepared for both parents, had granted custody in favour of the mother.

Miss Soertsz then put to the father he had "told Mr Hussini you had that week in which to harm one of your children.

"You said the court hearing was coming," she added.

Worcester acid attack
A woman said to be Martina Badiova, pictured by a resident who reported three people acting 'suspiciously' (West Mercia Police/PA)

The barrister said that, the next day, her client Hussini then told the father: "He had found someone who had a better option than cutting the child and would do it for £3,000."

She alleged that the father had gone with Paktia and Hussini to meet Pulko, who was the person who first suggested using acid.

Miss Soertsz said: "Pulko suggested that the better option to mark the child was using acid."

The father replied: "If I don't know Mr Pulko, how could I have ever discussed that?"

Jurors previously heard about what the prosecution claimed was an "aborted" attempt on the child on July 13, eight days before the shop attack.

Miss Soertsz alleged it was her client's account that the father, a former factory worker, had then sourced the acid, a claim he denied in court.

She said: "The plan was, as far as you're concerned, that the child was to be marked on July 13."

Worcester acid attack
Two men said to be Saied Hussini and Norbert Pulko, ahead of an 'aborted attack' on July 13 (West Mercia Police/PA)

On Hussini's account, Miss Soertsz said it was alleged that, by July 11, the father had handed Pulko a £1,500 down-payment for the attack.

The July 13 attack was "aborted", although CCTV showing the alleged run-up to the operation and Pulko walking near the mother and child, has been played in court.

Hussini had then claimed he rang and told the boy's father they had "done what you'd asked", Miss Soertsz said.

But three days later the father had contacted Hussini and said he "didn't believe he'd marked the child".

Miss Soertsz alleged the father and Paktia then went to Hussini's home, picked him up and had an argument in a car.

She said: "In that argument you said he'd taken your money and you'd ruined his life as the 13th of July had been the last chance to get the children back.

"He (Hussini) replied he'd done what was right, he'd helped the family and he also said that you were not a man."

The father replied: "Not true."

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