A police officer today told of the terrifying moment ammonia was thrown in his face as he tried to arrest an erratic driver, saying: “I thought I’d never see my children again.”
Pc Simon Ashton was blinded when he was squirted with the corrosive liquid as he grappled with the motorist.
The dog handler with the City of London Police said he feared for his life as he fought with Timmy Sullivan, 30, who was yesterday jailed for more than seven years.
Sullivan was stopped after being spotted just before 11pm on April 15 skipping red lights and speeding on the wrong side of the road in Fleet Street.
Fearing a possible terror attack, Pc Ashton began pursuing the vehicle with a colleague, eventually cornering it on Goswell Road in Clerkenwell. He said Sullivan was “acting weirdly, distant … in my opinion he was on some form of drugs.
“He then started to make a reach for the side door compartment... I believed he was reaching for a firearm... I was shouting out to fellow officers ‘I believe he’s got a gun’.” His colleagues used pepper spray but Sullivan continued to struggle.
“I was fighting at that time I believed for my life. He managed to get an arm free at which point I had a liquid thrown in my face. It covered the whole of my face and I swallowed some of it. I was immediately incapacitated.
"My throat was burning, I couldn’t breathe. I was immediately blind. I dropped to the floor in the middle of the junction, now on all fours and totally incapacitated. I believed I had acid thrown in my face. It was extremely painful.
“My worries were that he was getting out and he was going to finish me off.” It was four weeks before Pc Ashton’s sight fully returned. Prosecutor Adam King told Inner London crown court how a recent spate of acid attacks had caused widespread public alarm.
The court heard Sullivan was jailed indefinitely for the public’s protection in 2006 over the killing of 17-year-old student Daniel Pollen.
Sullivan, of Lewisham, pleaded guilty to attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, dangerous driving, two charges of possession of offensive weapons, handling stolen goods, driving while uninsured and disqualified, and assaulting a police officer. He was recalled to prison after the attack under the terms of his previous imprisonment.