BREAKING NEWS: Man jailed for throwing acid over junior doctor in Brighton
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A medical student who heavily disguised himself as a woman before throwing acid at a junior doctor in Brighton has been sentenced to a total of 15 years.
Milad Rouf, 25, turned up at a property in Steine Gardens on May 20, 2021 wearing a costume designed to make him look like a black woman of larger build.
When the victim opened the door, Rouf threw acid over her face, neck and chest. The victim, who had been in a relationship with Rouf up until March of this year, suffered life-changing injuries as a result of the attack.
Despite his efforts to hide his identity, Rouf was tracked down by police as a result of extensive CCTV enquiries in the city. He was arrested and charged, and admitted causing a dangerous / noxious thing to be taken / received with intent to burn / maim / disfigure / disabled / do grievous bodily harm when he appeared in court on Monday, August 16.
At Lewes Crown Court on Thursday (October 7), Rouf of Newport Road, Roath, Cardiff, was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment and four years on an extended licence as a dangerous offender.
The initial response
Police were called to Steine Gardens around 4.20pm on Thursday, May 20 after receiving reports of a noxious substance being thrown over a 24-year-old woman.
Officers swiftly attended the scene and after ensuring the victim received immediate medical attention, began to carry out a number of initial enquiries.
Witnesses described the suspect as a black woman wearing a black jacket and a clear Covid visor. The suspect had also handed the victim a note, which named the property’s previous tenant and demanded money.
Police began conducting house-to-house enquiries and identified a nearby property with doorbell footage. This showed the suspect wearing a black jacket, white trainers, blue jeans and carrying a blue backpack – first walking past before the attack, and then fleeing the scene afterwards.
From there, officers carried out a trawl of the city’s CCTV cameras to trace the suspect’s movements. This involved contacting dozens of businesses to access their footage and watching hundreds of hours of CCTV to identify where and when the suspect went.
They were able to see the suspect ran from Steine Gardens onto Edward Street and then Princes Street. The suspect is next seen in Old Steine but wearing different shoes – now black trainers with white soles.
The suspect is seen again heading down the steps to the east of Brighton Pier. They were seen changing for around five minutes before re-emerging looking of smaller build, carrying a large white bag and wearing a beanie hat and glasses.
The suspect disposes of the white bag in a bin on the seafront. They then walk around the city, stopping at various bins along the way, before heading to the Primark store to buy a sweatshirt, blue jacket with white detail and a cream backpack. They put the clothes on in the store and then leave, returning twice more to buy sunglasses and an LA baseball cap.
From here, the suspect returns to the seafront and asks a security guard what time the bins are emptied, as they believe they’ve accidentally thrown away a phone. They retrieve a mobile phone from a pair of jeans in a bin, before leaving the area and heading towards Brighton Railway Station where they board a train for London Victoria.
Rouf was identified from CCTV images after disposing of his disguise, and from descriptions provided by witnesses. He was arrested at his home address in Cardiff, where a blue jacket matching the one purchased by the suspect in Primark was found. Further enquiries in Cardiff uncovered the LA baseball cap and the cream backpack.
Officers searching his address also found a hand-written list in his bedside drawer titled ‘costume 1’ and listing a number of items – the majority of which matched equipment and clothing worn by the suspect at the time of the attack.
Police also worked to establish Rouf’s movements before the attack. They found he arrived in the city by train that morning, and was seen on CCTV wearing an orange hooded jumper, blue jeans, white trainers and black face mask. He was also carrying a blue backpack.
He was seen lingering around Edward Street for much of the morning, sometimes drawing on a notepad. He was also seen entering the Sainsbury’s store in Old Steine where he bought a fruit salad – this was later found at the scene of the attack in Steine Gardens.
Officers were able to piece together a comprehensive timeline showing Rouf’s movements and produce evidence of the efforts he went to in a bid to hide his identity and his motive and the Crown Prosecution Service authorised charges and Rouf was remanded into custody.
Rouf supplied a prepared statement following his arrest, in which he wrote: “I totally deny any involvement in this horrific offence.”
Watch his police interview
However, he later admitted the charge when he appeared for a plea hearing at Lewes Crown Court.
Investigating officer Rose Horan said: “This was a premeditated, malicious and harrowing incident and I’d like to thank the victim for showing such incredible bravery and dignity throughout. She has been inspirational, and we continue to support her during this difficult time.
“The evidence we were able to uncover in this case showed that Rouf spent considerable time planning this calculated attack. He changed his entire appearance in a convoluted attempt to get away with this cruel act. He wore padding under his clothing to appear as a large build female, made his skin look darker, wore a wig and even disguised his motive with the debt note he threw at his victim."
Detective Superintendent Mike Ashcroft said: "I would like to thank the officers who responded to the incident and the wider community for their huge support in our investigation. We approached and engaged with a wide range of businesses in the city centre and they provided us with hundreds of hours of CCTV.
“In the end, it was this footage that enabled us to trace Rouf’s movements through the city and build a strong case against him, which resulted in a guilty plea at court.
“I’m pleased to see the severity of the offence reflected in the sentence handed out by the court today. I hope seeing justice served brings some peace and closure to the victim, who will have to live with the pain and trauma of Rouf’s crime for the rest of her life, and also to her family, who have supported her throughout this difficult time.”
In a statement read to the court, the victim said: "Since the day I was subject to this horrific attack, my life has changed tremendously whereby I live in constant physical and psychological pain, fear of my future wellbeing, and socioeconomic hardship.
"I have suffered substantial physical injuries as a result of this attack. The impacts include severe damage to my right eye (which I am still unable to see out of), damage to my eyelids and the skin of my face, neck, chest and arm. I am unable to fully move my neck or close my eyelids.
"So far, I have had five painful, life and appearance-altering surgeries. I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that my life, for the foreseeable future, will involve more hospital appointments, procedures and operations.
"Prior to this attack, I was working as a junior doctor and living independently. Now I am unable to attend work or live my life as normal. I have been robbed of years of my career and young adult life.
"The psychological effect of this attack has been colossal on me, my family and loved ones... I cannot begin to imagine how or why someone could commit such a horrible, premeditated act. It is impossible to fathom, find peace with, or justify what was going on in his mind.
"I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the first responders, the detectives and the healthcare staff involved since the moment I was attacked, as well as my loved ones who have supported me and continued to show me love and care through this life changing assault."