Athree-year-old boy screamed “I hurt” over and over again when he was burned in an acid attack allegedly plotted by his father, a court has heard.
The youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons, suffered serious burns to his face and arm during a parental custody dispute triggered by his father, the court was told.

Prosecutors allege the 40-year-old “enlisted others” to attack the youngster in a bid to win more contact with him, having been angered by his wife walking out and taking the children.

Jonathan Rees QC, opening the case, said: “We say the evidence suggests that, in an effort to ensure his application was successful, he was willing to manufacture evidence of injuries to his children in an attempt to show that his wife was unable properly to care for them – in other words she was an unfit mother.”

The father is charged with conspiring to unlawfully or maliciously cast or throw sulphuric acid on or at the boy, with intent to burn, maim, disfigure or disable, or do grievous bodily harm.

Facing the same charge are Adam Cech, 27, Jan Dudi, 25, and Martina Badiova, 22, all from Birmingham; Norbert Pulko, 22, and Saied Hussini, 42, both from London; and Jabar Paktia, 42, from Wolverhampton. They all deny the allegation.

In his opening on Wednesday, Mr Rees told Worcester Crown Court the incident, at Home Bargains in Worcester on July 21 last year, was caught on the store’s CCTV. Footage was shown to jurors.

The mother of the boy had driven to the store with her children at about 2pm to buy a party gift.

Roadside CCTV established she was followed by a Vauxhall Vectra, allegedly containing Cech, Dudi and Pulko.

She and the children went inside the store, followed shortly after by the three men, with shop CCTV showing Cech approaching the victim as he stood with his brother.

Cech walks past the victim with his arm extended and an object in his hand.

Mr Rees told jurors: “What you have just seen is that person in a white T-shirt – you can just catch the moment where the arm is extended.

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“That really is the hub of this case. That is the acid attack. It is over in a split second.

“You have, in shot, Mr Cech – there’s no dispute of that – extending his arm, out towards the child.”

The boy can then be seen in distress, being comforted by his mother and siblings.

Mr Rees said: “His mother was a short distance away as the attack is carried out, and the sister heard the victim scream out, ‘I hurt, I hurt, I hurt’.

“He was shouting and crying and ran towards his mother holding his left arm.”

“The three males left the store within moments of each other,” he added.

The boy suffered a 10cm burn to his left forearm, and a 3cm burn on his forehead, which needed specialist hospital treatment. He has since made “a good recovery”, Mr Rees said.

He earlier told jurors there had been an “aborted attempt” eight days before the attack, near a school.

He said an eagle-eyed neighbour, concerned about two men and a woman hanging around near the school in a black Vauxhall Astra, took photos allegedly of Hussini, Pulko and Badiova.

Mr Rees said a CCTV camera on the side of a shop captured the “tattooed” Pulko approaching the mother and her children as they left school, “with an object in his left hand”.

“As they approached the entrance to the car park, Pulko was almost within touching distance of the child, who was holding his mother’s hand,” he said.

“As the mother and her children walked into the car park, Pulko stops following them and crosses the road.

“The prosecution suggest that the plan was for Mr Pulko to squirt acid on the child but he pulled out or aborted because there were too many people around.”

The trial, estimated to last six weeks, will hear evidence from the victim’s mother later on Wednesday.