Ammonia attack victim will be scarred for life, say family

Newcastle Crown Court.

Newcastle Crown Court.

The family of a man subjected to a gang attack where he was stabbed and sprayed with ammonia say they will never get over the ordeal.

Paul Smith and his girlfriends Sarah Schonewald and Shauna Connolly confronted their victim at a Sunderland flat and have now been sentenced a year after the incident.

Paul Smith

Paul Smith

The man they attacked was left with a stab wound to his shoulder and the corrosive liquid, which was inside a Fairy Liquid bottle, was squired into his face.

His family say the chemical has left him scarred for life and also left damage to other areas of his body.

A member of his family, who was living opposite the home where the attack happened, was the first to see him after the ordeal when he came to her for help.

She says they both now suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and has also had an impact on the wider family as they try to come to terms with what happened.

It’s knocked him for six and he suffers from flashbacks.

Family member

“As a family we are devastated because he will never be the same again,” said the woman, who is in her 50s and has asked not to be named.

“It’s knocked him for six and he suffers from flashbacks.

“He’s a quiet lad, he keeps himself to himself, he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

“Now he doesn’t want to walk on the streets.

Shauna Connolly

Shauna Connolly

“He came to me for help and I still have flashbacks, he was covered in blood.

“He still has pains in his arm and in his eyes, they look bloodshot all the time, and you can see where the ammonia ran down the side of his face in a river and he says his throat burns so he keeps thinking he has cancer.

“More than that, there’s the depression.”

The woman added she is also seeking help after witnessing the aftermath of the attack.

Sarah Schonewald

Sarah Schonewald

Another man who witnessed the incident who was a close family friend and died before the case reached court.

She said: “I just feel angry.

“I keep seeing what happened to him even now and I don’t think they got the sentence they deserved.”

At Newcastle Crown Court, mum Connolly, 26, of Lake Road, Houghton, admitted causing grievous bodily harm on the basis she stabbed the victim with a knife that was handed to her by Smith, who encourage her to attack.

She has been jailed for 15 months.

Smith, 38, of Hedworth Terrace, Sunderland, admitted the same charge but on the basis he did not hand over the knife and did not instruct Connolly to attack but did throw the ammonia at the man.

He has a long criminal record which includes serious offences of violence and has been jailed for three years and seven months.

Schonewald, 31, of Kidsgrove Square, Sunderland, also admitted causing grievous bodily harm on the basis she played an encouraging role through her words and presence during the violence.

The university student, who is already a mum and expecting another child, has no previous convictions and was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with rehabilitation requirements.

All three defendants have been given a five year restraining order to keep them away from the victim.