Schoolgirl, 17, attacked classmate with acid

Edinburgh Sheriff Court
Edinburgh Sheriff Court

A schoolgirl left a classmate with horrific injuries following an acid attack at a high school.

The 17-year-old pupil poured a solution containing sulphuric acid into a viola case owned by a girl who had started seeing her former boyfriend.

The instrument was destroyed but the victim was left “screaming in pain” after suffering severe burns to her legs when the acid poured from the case as she took it down from a shelf.

The victim, also 17, was then forced to drop out of some lessons and cancel driving lessons due to the painful injuries following the attack in East Lothian, last year.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told prior to the incident, the teenage attacker had researched acid attacks in the press and read articles on how long acid attackers would receive as a prison sentence.

The court heard both girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were acquaintances and both were members of the orchestra at the high school – which also cannot be identified – before the incident.

The “talented musicians” fell out when the victim began going out with an ex-partner of the teenage attacker.

The 17-year-old attacker, who played clarinet in the orchestra, bought a bottle of drain cleaner online last September and hid it in her school locker.

She then sneaked into the school’s music room where all the pupil’s instruments are stored and poured the drain cleaner - which contained 91 per cent sulphuric acid - into the girl’s viola case.

But the plan to destroy the instrument turned ugly when the acid poured from the case onto the girl’s legs, leaving her with horrific injuries and subsequently suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Prosecutor Aiden Higgins said both musicians had gone through their school years together and both were in sixth year and in the school orchestra at the time of the offence.

Mr Higgins said: “They had been friends but that friendship came to an end following the break up of the accused’s year-long relationship with a boy. Matters became worse when the victim began a relationship with the accused’s former boyfriend.

“During the police investigation the accused’s mobile phone was analysed and it was discovered in early September the accused had searched the internet for the availability of One Shot drain cleaner and searches about the inside of a viola case.

“The accused also made a number of searches about acid attacks. There was also evidence the accused searched into sentences given by the courts for cases [dealing with acid attacks].

The fiscal added both girls took part in an orchestra practice session at the school on September 29 last year and afterwards had stored their instruments on shelves provided.

And when the classroom was deserted the girl then sneaked back in to carry out her plan to destroy her rival’s instrument.

Mr Higgins said: “The accused entered the music room and took down the girl’s viola case, opened it and poured a quantity of drain cleaner over the viola and inside the case. She then placed it back on the shelf.

“When the victim went into the strings room she was aware of an eggy smell. She then took down her case and she was immediately aware of red liquid spilling from the bottom of the case and landing on her right leg.

“She looked down and saw her tights were disintegrating and she was aware of an intense burning on her leg.”

The girl was then identified as the culprit after a schoolboy had spotted her crouching down inside the deserted music room ten minutes before the incident occurred.

The victim was subsequently rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for treatment to her injuries and eventually was transferred to St John’s hospital for plastic surgery treatment.

Police and the fire service were called in and the school was locked down due to chemicals being involved in the incident.

The court was also told the victim continues to suffer psychological problems and also has “shooting pains and nerve damage” due to the attack and has undergone painful laser treatment to the burns.

The 17-year-old attacker, who was accompanied in the dock by her father, admitted to recklessly and culpably pouring sulphuric acid into a viola case in the knowledge it would be removed from a shelf by the victim causing sulphuric acid to spill onto her legs, all to her injury and permanent disfigurement on September 29 last year.

Jim Stephenson, defending, said he would reserve his mitigation for the sentencing diet, and Sheriff Michael O’Grady deferred sentence to August for the preparation of reports and the consideration of a non-harassment order.