A Thornton Heath teen has admitted carrying out six acid attacks in 90 minutes against moped riders in a bid to steal their bikes.
Derryck John sprayed his victims in the face with a noxious liquid, leaving one with “life-changing injuries”.
He stole two mopeds and tried to take another four before being arrested at around 3am following the acid attack spree in north and east London.
He changed his plea after fresh CCTV images were shown at Wood Green Crown Court of him riding a stolen moped at a Texaco petrol station in Mare Street that night.
As he did so, his mother ran out crying: “You’ll never come back to live,” and could be heard sobbing outside.
John will be sentenced in March. Another person involved in the attacks is still at large.
In a statement, John said the acid was thrown to incapacitate the victims, and said he is frightened of the other man involved, who is much older than him. He also said he was terrified of the sentence he will receive.
He admitted throwing a corrosive liquid with intent to “disable, burn, maim, disfigure or cause grievous bodily harm”, two counts of robbery and four counts of attempted robbery.
Judge Lucas said: “Someone might believe squirting something like ammonia might incapacitate or disable someone not intending to get them in the eyes. But you aren’t squirting it to hurt the helmet are you? You’re squirting it to harm what lies behind the helmet. You’re squirting it to harm the central part of the face, a prominent feature of that is the eyes.”
The court was told police had taken photos of John at the station following his arrest that night. He was wearing distinctive Nike trainers and jeans.
The court was then shown CCTV footage at the Texaco garage the same night, where he could be seen wearing the same clothes as he rode pillion on a stolen moped.
“These are images the defendant won’t have seen before,” said prosecutor Benjamin Temple. “This is him, we say face on, having lifted a white crash helmet and speaking to the cashier in the Texaco garage pointing to the moped, stolen from one of the victims, on the forecourt.”
John’s finger prints were also found on a scooter that was stolen on June 25, which was used in the rampage.
After an adjournment in which he discussed the fresh evidence with John, his lawyer Amiot Vollenweilder asked the judge for an estimate of the length of sentence he could expect if he were to plead guilty.
He also asked the judge, who presided over the case of Arthur Collins jailed for 20 years last month, whether the circumstances of his client’s case were “wildly different”.
Judge Noel Lucas said he wouldn’t find it “an easy sentence to commute”.
DS James Leeks from Hackney CID said afterwards: “Derryck John did not think twice about using a life changing and even potentially life-threatening substance against those who resisted his robbery attempts. Acid attacks ruin lives and have no place in our society.
“It beggars belief that anyone would be prepared to scar someone for life and leave them to live with life-changing injuries for the sake of a phone or a moped. We are working hard to keep the public safe and make the streets hostile territory for criminals who steal scooters and use them to snatch valuables from members of the public. We have a particular focus on the small number of criminals prepared to use corrosive substances to do so.”