Adele Bellis says acid attacks will continue to rise if tougher sentences are not imposed
PUBLISHED: 18:37 25 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:37 25 February 2018
A Suffolk acid attack victim has said people will continue to suffer unless tougher sentences are brought in to act as a deterrent.
Adele Bellis, 25 from Lowestoft, suffered permanent scarring to her face and lost an ear after having sulphuric acid thrown over her in an attack arranged by her ex boyfriend in August 2014.
And as figures uncovered by BBC 5 Live show acid attacks were three times higher in 2017 than in 2013, Miss Bellis said the only way to stop these horrendous attacks is to impose longer and more consistent sentences for those who carry them out.
The new figures, obtained by the programme’s investigation team, came from 25 out of 46 police forces who were asked for data; showing acid attacks were three times higher in 2017 than in 2013 - with 646 attacks recorded in England and Wales last year.
The majority of the attacks were recorded in London - where retailers are being encouraged to sign up to voluntarily self-regulate sales of corrosive substances to minors - with 464 incidents in 2017.
But Miss Bellis said action needs to be taken across the whole country.
“I think sentencing needs to be higher,” she said. “If these people know they could get a life sentence if they carry out an attack, then that would help to stop it.
“At the moment there’s no deterrent. They are trying to stop under-18s from buying acid but if they want it they will get it, so unless something more gets done I think attacks will continue to rise.
“My attacker only got four years and served two, and that isn’t a long enough time for people to think I won’t do that, so there needs to be a law change.”
Miss Bellis’ ex boyfriend Anthony Riley was jailed for life for arranging the attack, but the man he paid to throw the acid was released from prison after two years.
The Government is currently reviewing the regulation of sales of corrosive substances.
The Home Office told BBC 5 Live that it was considering responses to its consultation on a proposal to ban sales of corrosive products to under-18s, and creating a new possession offence.
Miss Bellis said that despite the suffering her attackers caused, she has come out the other side stronger than ever.
“I’ve taken the positives from every situation I have gone through with my recovery and remained strong,” she said.
“I’ve accepted my scars and I wouldn’t change them now because they represent the new me and the free me.”