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Teenager jailed for 17 years for killing nurse caught in acid attack crossfire

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A 19-year-old man has been jailed for 17 years over the death of a woman who suffered burns as he threatened another man with a bottle of sulphuric acid.

The case is believed to be the first conviction in British law for a death after an acid attack.

Joanne Rand had been to visit her daughter’s grave when she was hit with the high-strength corrosive substance on 3 June last year.

The 47-year-old nurse was sitting on a bench in Frogmoor, High Wycombe, when Xeneral Webster was trying to steal a bike from another man.

Xeneral Webster rode away from the scene in Frogmoor, High Wycombe, carrying a bottle of acid
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Webster rode away from the scene in Frogmoor, High Wycombe, carrying a bottle of acid

He pulled out a bottle containing the acid from his satchel during the confrontation – which the other man knocked out of his hand and kicked away.

The mother-of-three felt a liquid land on her and screamed in pain.

She ran to a nearby branch of KFC for help and to splash water over herself, but she was left with “painful and disfiguring burns” to 5% of her body, Reading Crown Court heard.

Joanne Rand
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Joanne Rand’s family says her tragic death left everyone ‘shocked and deeply saddened’

She was treated at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury but died 11 days later from multiple organ failure after contracting septicaemia due to the acid burns.

Webster, of Westway in west London, fled the scene on the bike he had taken from the other man, put on a balaclava and retrieved the bottle before disposing of it, Lesley Bates, prosecuting, told the court.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in April during his murder trial, and also admitted possessing an offensive weapon, namely acid, and a charge of affray.

As she sentenced Webster, Judge Angela Morris said: “You and your actions bear the responsibility for her (Ms Rand’s) tragic demise.

“The cost of your actions on that fateful Sunday afternoon are incalculable for her family and friends.”

Webster shouted abuse at the judge after the sentencing, which was attended by nine members of Ms Rand’s family.

Ms Rand’s sister Lynn earlier described to the court how the victim’s two children watched their mother die as her condition deteriorated with every passing day.

Xeneral Webster
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Xeneral Webster pleaded guilty to manslaughter during his murder trial

“The day before Jo died I will never forget the look in her eyes when she asked me, ‘am I going to die?’,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion.

She said her sister’s death had left “a massive hole in our lives”, before she turned to Webster and added: “You did this to us… whatever sentence you get will never be enough.”

After the sentencing, Ms Rand’s daughter Katie Pitwell said that Webster “now has to face the consequences of his actions but this will never bring back my mum”.

She added: “I have to live the rest of my life with the fact that she will never be at my wedding or see me as I progress through life…this shouldn’t have happened to her.

“This has left a big impact on our lives but I’m satisfied knowing this killer won’t be able to hurt others now.”

Brendan Kelly, defending Webster, said his client was “sorry”, did not intend to cause anyone any harm, and had apologised to Ms Rand’s family in a letter.

“He has a troubled and violent background in which he himself has been abused,” he said.

Adrian Foster, from the CPS, said: “Had Webster not planned to seriously hurt the intended victim, Joanne would still be alive today and he is responsible for her death.

“I hope his conviction and subsequent sentence will serve as a reminder that the full extent of the law will be used robustly against those who use acid as a weapon intending to maim, disfigure or cause the death of a victim.

“Nothing will bring Joanne back to her family and friends, but we hope today’s sentence brings them, at least, a small sense that justice has been done.”

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