Worthing man jailed for ‘vicious’ ammonia attack

Matthew Johnson, 26, has been jailed. Photo: Sussex Police
Matthew Johnson, 26, has been jailed. Photo: Sussex Police

A Worthing man has been jailed after spraying a woman in the eyes with ammonia, causing long-term injury, and sexually assaulting her, police said.

Matthew Johnson, 26, a roofer, formerly of various addresses in the Worthing area, was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on Tuesday (8 May) having been convicted at the same court on 23 January, of using a noxious substance to cause grievous bodily harm and sexual assault, police said.

He was also convicted of both actual bodily harm and criminal damage over a previous incident in which he attacked a woman in March 2016, confirmed police.

He was given an extended sentence of 14 years of which the first 10 years will be in custody, for the ammonia offence, police said.

The other four years will be spent on prison supervision licence.

He also received other sentences to run concurrently with the 14-year sentence – three years for sexual assault, 18 months for actual bodily harm, 18 months for criminal damage and two months for driving whilst disqualified, police said.

Detective Constable Duncan Chalmers of the West Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said: “This was a vicious assault by Johnson.

“He met her in Worthing, told her that he had a knife and ammonia and forced her to drive them both to a remote car park near Steyning where he squirted ammonia in her eyes from a plastic sun tan bottle which we later found at the scene, before beating her black and blue and then sexually assaulting her.

“After this ordeal he prolonged her agony by driving her around for several hours before he dropped her off at Worthing Hospital later the same day.

“The victim’s eyes have still not fully recovered from the attack even now.

“She has to wear glasses and cannot drive at night.”

In sentencing Johnson, Judge Shani Barnes said that her experience of seeing the photos of the injuries would stay with her for some time.

Johnson fled Lewes Crown Court on 9 May last year when he was initially due to stand trial for the offences, police said.

He was arrested at an address in Broadwater Road, Worthing, on 5 September, in a police search shortly after he had been spotted in the same street by someone who recognised him.

During the arrest, Johnson broke his ankle when he fell from a flat roof when attempting to evade officers, police confirmed.

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