A dad left scarred for life and permanently blind in one eye after acid was thrown in his face, feels “let down” after his attacker was moved to an open prison just five years later.
Property developer Andreas Christopheros was horrified to learn the man who left him severely disfigured by hurling acid over him in a case of mistaken identity, is now given more freedom.
David Phillips had travelled more than 300 miles from his home in Hastings, East Sussex to Truro, Cornwall, seeking revenge, but turned up on the wrong doorstep.
He admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent and was jailed for life with a minimum seven year tariff at Truro Crown Court in October 2015.
A judge ruled he was a danger to the public after hearing he threw the corrosive liquid as Andreas answered the door believing he was about to collect a Christmas parcel in December 2014.
The incident left Andreas, 35, who lives with wife Pia, 38, in Truro, Cornwall, permanently blind in one eye and with horrendous burns.
Appeal judges later quashed the life term and replaced it with a 16 year sentence.
But Andreas said he now felt “sickened” after learning his attacker has been moved to an open prison and can see his family and enjoy freedom just five years after his life was changed forever.
He said: “They let me know last Monday he has now been moved to an open prison.
“How can he be let out so soon? How can he do what he did and only spend five and a half years behind actual bars.
“I feel massively let down by the justice system. I will have to continue having surgery for the best part of my life.
“The fact he can already spend time outside jail, enjoying good weather and seeing his family back in his home county is an extremely low blow, when I am still needing regular surgery.
“He is now allowed to apply for a job and can start to rebuild his life.
“He did something which was horrific and stupid and the fact he got the wrong person is all the evidence you need why you don’t do something like this.
“He did what he did and the police did their job while the NHS saved my life.
“But then the judges did not do what they should – and give out a sentence to fit the crime.
“I don’t shoulder a huge amount of anger towards Phillips. I would like him to pay for crime but my anger is towards the people in the justice system who have let me down.”
Andreas said his main anger continued to be reserved towards the three High Court judges who slashed the original life sentence.
He added: “The original judge at Truro Crown Court gave a solid sentence that fitted the crime.
“We actually appealed his sentence on the ground of longevity as we felt the minimum term was not long enough. But we were told we could not appeal as the judge acted fairly.
“So, on one hand the appeal judge said he acted fairly so we assumed it would be replicated on the other. But Phillips, the criminal, had his appeal granted while me, the victim, was told the judge had acted fairly.
“None of this makes sense. I have now spent years campaigning for tougher sentencing and the whole time I have been campaigning I have not encountered any opposition to my stance.
“The only people that did where the three high-ranking judges in the High Court.
“My frustration is still very much targeted towards them.”
At the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Wyn Williams said a life sentence was not justified as, although the crime involved a high level of planning and determination to carry out, it was a revenge attack, albeit on the wrong man.
The judge said it was therefore wrong for Philips to be condemned a highly dangerous man from whom the public would need future protection.
But Andreas said he would suffer from his attacker’s actions for the rest of his life.
He added: “I am still having regular surgery and routinely will for a very long time.
“In a way the old me died when he threw acid in my face. It is what it is and I am not the sort of person to lie down and be broken by it. But it is fair to say my life up to the point of the attack was completely different to what it is now.
“I have had to rebuild a whole new life since. There is so much less I am able to do. I can’t play with the kids as much. I can’t go out in the evening.
“It has had a big effect on my life. I am not one to let it break me but life in every single aspect imaginable has been much more difficult.
“The struggle is never going to end -I won’t get my eyesight back and I will always have facial scars – there is no way to fully heal them and they are injuries I will carry for the rest of my life.
“But I have an amazingly strong wife and amazing friends – thank god for good friends and family.”
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Acid attacks devastate lives and leave victims with both emotional and physical scars and our thoughts remain with Mr Christopheros.
“Since this appalling case, we have made it an offence to carry these substances in public, banned their sale to under-18s, and brought in minimum custodial sentences to ensure the cowards who use acids as weapons face the full force of the law.”