Acid At­tack Mys­tery: why Did A Boy Do This To Me?

Burned in my own home End­less agony and life­long scars I’ll never un­der­stand why

Pick Me Up! - - YOUR PICK ME UPS -

Be­fore I could say any­thing, liquid splashed my face

Tara Quigley, 33, East London

As my nieces played up­stairs one evening in April 2013, I pot­tered about, clear­ing up. My sis­ter Tina, 30, was in the bath. I lived with her and her daugh­ters, then aged 12 and 9.

But, as I went to wash up, there was a knock at the door. Bit late for vis­i­tors, I thought. It was 9.15pm.

When I an­swered the door, a young lad was stand­ing there.

He was wear­ing a dark jacket, and looked fid­gety. ‘Are you Michelle?’ he asked. ‘No,’ I said. ‘I’m Tara.’ With that, he frowned and scur­ried off, and I didn’t think any­thing of it.

Min­utes later, I was on the phone when there was an­other knock at the door. Open­ing up,

I saw the same boy.

Be­fore I could say any­thing, liquid splashed my face.

My skin burn­ing, I in­stinc­tively stepped back, slam­ming the door.

‘ Tina!’ I screamed, in ter­ri­ble pain.

I dropped the phone, ran into the kitchen and started splashing wa­ter all over my­self.

My face, neck and arms felt like they were on fire, my flesh was burn­ing be­fore my very eyes.


I knew it was acid. What else could cause such pain?

I ran up­stairs as Tina came out of the bath­room. When she saw me, she al­most choked. My flesh was bub­bling, burn­ing and melt­ing away.

Tina ran into the bath­room and started wet­ting tow­els. In a panic, we put them on my skin, but they just pulled my flesh off.

My el­dest niece flew out of her bed­room, ter­ri­fied, and called an am­bu­lance.

The burn­ing pain was ab­so­lutely ex­cru­ci­at­ing.

Melt­ing away

When paramedics ar­rived, I was rushed to The Royal London Hospi­tal, deliri­ous.

Doc­tors pumped me full of painkillers, then I was trans­ferred to Chelsea and West­min­ster Hospi­tal for spe­cial­ist care.

I was smoth­ered in gels and ban­dages. And it was con­firmed I’d been burnt by acid.

My face, neck, chest, breasts and right arm had all been hit, and my skin had lit­er­ally melted away. My neck was so raw, I couldn’t move my head.

My hair, eye­brows, and eye­lashes had been singed.

The fol­low­ing day, po­lice came to speak to me. I tried my best to give them a de­scrip­tion of my at­tacker, but it was a blur. ‘Please, just find him,’ I cried. And, 12 days later, they did. The po­lice told me my at­tacker had been caught at a lo­cal hospi­tal. Turned out, when he’d thrown the acid at me, it’d splashed

back and splat­tered his chest.

But, know­ing the po­lice would be hunt­ing for him, he’d waited days be­fore get­ting help.

Mis­taken iden­tity?

Hospi­tal staff had put two and two to­gether.

‘He must’ve been in so much pain,’ I told Tina.

But his fear of get­ting caught must’ve been even stronger.

When po­lice told me his name – Liam Sib­bons – it meant noth­ing to me. Turned out he was 15 – just a kid. I tor­tured my­self over why he’d want to hurt me. Had some­one put him up to it? But I’d not fallen out with any­one. It just didn’t make sense. ‘Must’ve been a case of mis­taken iden­tity,’ a po­lice of­fi­cer said. Over the next few weeks, I un­der­went skin grafts from my legs to re­pair skin on my chest and neck. And, when I fi­nally saw my re­flec­tion…

‘I look like some­thing from a hor­ror movie,’ I cried. My skin was blis­tered, patchy, scarred. And my nieces were too scared to come any­where near me, fright­ened it would fall away. Heart­break­ing.

Fi­nally, af­ter 20 days in hospi­tal, I was dis­charged.

I was a wreck, though. The slight­est noise made me jump out of my skin.


Months passed, and I needed even more skin grafts and op­er­a­tions to loosen skin that had be­come too tight.

The agony was never-end­ing, the scars would be life­long.

In October 2013, Liam Robert Sib­bons, then 16, ap­peared at court, and pleaded guilty to throw­ing cor­ro­sive fluid on a per­son, with in­tent to do griev­ous bod­ily harm.

He gave no ex­pla­na­tion for the at­tack, so I’ll never know the truth.

Judge David Rad­ford told Sib­bons, ‘It was, in my judg­ment, a truly wicked of­fence, which clearly was pre­med­i­tated. Whether this was be­cause you were be­ing paid to com­mit this of­fence and there was some kind of mis­take about the iden­tity of the vic­tim is a mat­ter for spec­u­la­tion, in the ab­sence of can­dour and hon­esty on your part.’ Sib­bons was sen­tenced to just eight years and three months in prison.

I was gut­ted, but what could I do?

Since the at­tack, I’ve had more than 15 skin grafts and surg­eries to re­pair my burnt skin.

My scars are a harsh re­minder of the ter­ri­ble pain I suf­fered.

It makes me sick that such sav­age at­tacks are be­com­ing more com­mon. Acid is such a de­struc­tive sub­stance.

But I’m a sur­vivor, and I won’t let what’s hap­pened de­stroy me.

Such sav­age at­tacks are be­com­ing more com­mon

The dam­age was ex­ten­sive I’ve needed over 15 skin grafts so far

Five months on from the at­tack


The pain ter­ri­ble

How I used to look...

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