Three Wellingborough men have been jailed for more than eight years between them for indiscriminately splashing members of the public with ammonia in a gang-related attack.
Jake Price, 22, of Laburnum Close, Frank Taylor, 25, of York Road and Ijuha Sterling-Campbell, 21,of Chapman Road, all pleaded guilty to administering a noxious substance.
The judge scolded the three attackers at Northampton Crown Court today (January 16), saying the public was entitled to not having to live in fear of gangs who selfishly bring their problems to the streets.
She also commended two police officers who bravely put others first and gave first aid to victims of the attack despite being splashed with ammonia themselves.
Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking said: “There were multiple victims that night. The ammonia was indiscriminately used and the victims had no idea what they had been sprayed with, at a time when the media has shown the devastating damage of acid attacks.”
CCTV played in court showed how, at around 4.30am on July 23 last year, Taylor and Sterling-Campbell - both named as members of the so-called “TRU” gang - as well as Price confronted a rival gang in the McDonald’s in the Drapery, Northampton.
The three men left the restaurant but returned less than a minute later armed with plastic bottles full of ammonia.
Prosecutor James Keely said: “There were at least 30 people outside the McDonald’s. It was in those circumstances that Taylor discharged the ammonia from the bottle.
“It was understandably chaos. At least four people were affected, including police officers.”
The three men ran from the scene in all directions and were chased by police.
Meanwhile, PC Victoria Ballantyne and PC Karen Canwell, who were both splashed with the noxious ammonia, treated other victims at the scene with water handed out by staff at the McDonald’s.
The court heard how one of the victims, who had to be taken to hospital, has suffered from panic attacks and anxiety ever since the incident.
Price, Taylor and Sterling-Campbell reportedly all expressed “remorse for what happened”.
Price and Sterling-Campbell were both sentenced to 35 months in prison. Taylor was jailed for 33 months.
Detective Sergeant Keith Morson of Operation Worcester, the Northamptonshire Police response to organised gang-related crime, supervised the investigation.
He said: “This incident was a horrendous, indiscriminate attack, which left innocent members of the public who were enjoying a night out with severe reactions to a chemical thrown at them.
“There was a complete disregard for their safety and that of the two police officers who also suffered the effects of the substance.
“I want to take a moment to pay credit to those officers who placed the welfare of others over their own by administering first aid and who demonstrated great professionalism by securing and preserving evidence at the scene.
“This type of incident, although rare, is the continuation of a worrying national trend and I take pride we have managed this investigation to a successful conclusion, ensuring these gang members were all quickly identified, arrested and convicted for their dangerous actions.
“Northamptonshire Police are determined to target any individual who affiliates themselves to a gang and we appeal for the public’s help in telling us about any concerns they have about gang activity.
“Anyone with information about gangs operating in Northamptonshire Police can call us on 101 or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
A fourth man, 26-year-old Taishon Whittaker, was acquitted yesterday.