Acid attack accused tells jurors he was ‘forced’ to burn boy after ‘gun’ threat
The man who squirted acid on a three-year-old boy has told a court he was "forced" to carry out the shop attack after being threatened with a "gun".
The youngster, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, suffered serious injuries to his face and arm at the Home Bargains store in Worcester on July 21 last year.
A 40-year-old man, the boy's father, has denied a charge of conspiring to spray sulphuric acid on the boy between June 1 and July 22, 2018, with intent to harm.
He stands accused of plotting the attack alongside a woman and five other men, including Adam Cech.
On Tuesday, Cech told a trial jury it was he shown on the shop's CCTV, squirting the boy.
However, he denied knowing at the time it was acid.
The 27-year-old, of Farnham Road, Birmingham, has pleaded not guilty to being a part of the conspiracy, alongside co-accused Jan Dudi, 25, of Cranbrook Road, both Birmingham and Norbert Pulko, 22, of Sutherland Road, London.
Defendants; Martina Badiova, 22, of Newcombe Road, Handsworth, Birmingham; Jabar Paktia, 42, of Newhampton Road, Wolverhampton, and Saied Hussini, of Wrottesley Road, London, have also denied the same charge.
Jurors at Worcester Crown Court previously heard how the injured child screamed "I hurt", over and over again, after being struck, at about 2.16pm.
The Crown has alleged the father "enlisted others" to attack the youngster in a bid to win a custody battle, after his wife walked out on him with the children, in 2016.
It is also alleged an "aborted" attempt was carried out on July 13, eight days before the shop attack.
Giving evidence for the first time, Cech claimed the bottle containing acid had been "forced" into his hand by Pulko, moments before he entered the store.
As he started his testimony, Cech's barrister Andrew Copeland showed the jury a BB gun, which his client alleged Pulko had with him as he drove Cech and Dudi to Home Bargains.
Mr Copeland told jurors the "gun" had later been recovered in Pulko's bedroom by police.
Video of the attack was shown in court, and as it played, Mr Copeland asked Cech to identify the man in the footage squirting acid on the boy.
Cech replied: "It's me.
"I was squirting something onto the little boy."
Asked what he was carrying in his left hand, he replied: "It was like a white bottle."
Cech, speaking through a Slovak interpreter, added: "I was forced to do it. By Norbert Pulko."
He said: "When we stopped at the car park where Home Bargains was, he pulled out a gun from his clothing, and put it underneath the seat."
The father-of-two added: "He [Pulko] got out the car, and told us to come with him – I needed the toilet, as well.
"We were close to the shop and he was trying to give me this bottle, putting it in my hand.
"He gave it to me, forcing it into my hand and told me what to do.
"He told me he'd show me the little boy and that then I should squirt the drops onto the boy, and that it will not hurt him."
He added: "He told me that if I did not do it, I should remember what he's got in the car, and that he knows where I live."
When Mr Copeland asked what Pulko told him was in the bottle, Cech replied: "He told me they were only drops.
"It was a small bottle, it looked like eye drops or ear drops, something like that."
Asked if he knew it was acid, Cech said: "If I had known the contents was some kind of acid or chemical, I wouldn't have even taken it in my hand."
Soon afterwards, Cech, Dudi and Pulko left the store.
Back in the car, Cech claimed he asked Pulko "why did I have to do it?", but alleged the other man did not reply.
Cech also claimed he had not gone to the police about the gun, because he was "scared" of Pulko.
Asked why it was he and Pulko went socialising together later that night, he replied: "I was not aware I had hurt somebody at that point – and I was scared of him."
Earlier, during the father's evidence, prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC claimed he had been "handing over acid" in a pub car park to a man alleged to be Pulko, just hours before the attack.
The Crown's barrister asked him: "I suggest you are an arrogant and selfish man, aren't you?
"You planned this acid attack on your three-year-old son."
The father, speaking through a Dari interpreter, said: "This is not the truth, I would never do this."
The trial continues.