A jealous woman who doused her sleeping boyfriend with acid because she mistakenly believed he was having an affair has been jailed for 14 years. Esther Afrifa, 28, bought a litre of sulphuric acid online to carry out the attack on Kelvin Pogo, hiding it by her bedside at the home they shared in Wembley, northwest London.
Afrifa – wrongly believing Mr Pogo was secretly dating a university classmate – poured acid on to his chest as he was sleeping and then went to extraordinary lengths to stop him getting emergency treatment.
More than four hours after the first attack, Afrifa carried out a devastating second attack on her already-wounded boyfriend as he lay on the sofa, pouring more of the acid on to his face and torso.
Sentencing Afrifa to 14 years at Harrow crown court, Judge Charles Bourne QC called it “a truly wicked thing to do”.
“You prepared a weapon you knew would cause extremely severe disfiguring injuries and terrible pain”, he said. “You armed yourself and deliberately followed through with that plan.”
Mr Pogo, 29, from Basildon, who moved to the UK to study film, has been left physically and psychologically scarred, with permanent sight loss and fears for his budding career in the movies.
“I always had a dream to bring an Oscar to where I am from”, he said. “I dream of being the next Spike Lee and being a filmmaker who makes things that matter. I have problems with my sight and looking through the camera viewfinder is difficult but I will get there.”
He told the Standard: “Every day I wake up is like the day she attacked me. It’s like time has stopped. Every time there is a knock at the door I’m scared someone is going to hurt me. She used to be my world and she did this to me. I just can’t understand it.”
Mr Pogo, who is now plagued by suicidal thoughts, added that he had been left with £42,000 of medical bills and now fears he will be forced to leave the UK.
“I’m worried because my visa is ruining out and I still need to have more operations in the UK”, he said.
The court heard Afrifa carried out the attack on December 22, 2019 when she wrongly suspected her partner of cheating, pouring acid on to Mr Pogo’s chest at 3.30 am which quickly burned through his t-shirt.
He used holy water to treat his wounds, and – not realising his girlfriend was responsible – asked her to get help. But instead she pretended to call 999, blocked his friends from calling, and cancelled a taxi to take him to hospital.
Mr Pogo says Afrifa tried to trick him into drinking acid she had put into a Nike sports bottle, claiming it was tap water. He said he was only saved because of a distrust of tap water since his childhood in Africa.
When Afrifa poured acid on to Mr Pogo’s face and body as he lay resting on the sofa, he fled screaming from the flat was helped by a passing stranger before finally getting medical help.
Judge Bourne ruled Afrifa poses an ongoing danger to members of the public as he ordered her to serve at least two-thirds of the 14-year prison sentence, plus an extra three years on licence once released.
She will initially be detained in a secure hospital due to a mental health disorder that has developed since the attacks.