Twelve years for jealous husband in acid attack

Kim Sengupta
Tuesday 10 March 1998 00:02 GMT

PETER Humphrey was an obsessive, jealous husband who decided to exact a sadistic revenge on his estranged wife by disfiguring her face with nitric acid, a jury decided yesterday. The plot went wrong, and it was 21-year-old babysitter Beverley Hammett who was left scarred for life.

Yesterday the 51-year-old businessman was jailed for 12 years at Exeter Crown Court. As he was being led down to the cells he screamed out: "I would like to make a comment to this jury, I am not guilty". Passing sentence, Judge Graham Cottle said: "There has not even been a hint of remorse. You are an evil man."

Ms Hammett's face has been rebuilt with plastic skin. The operation is the first time the method had been used after a chemical attack. She said she "felt sorry" for her attacker, and that she "could not understand" why he did it.

The man who flung the acid on Ms Hammett's face when she answered the door of the house where she worked in the Devon seaside town of Seaton in the summer of l996 still has not been caught. Police have offered a pounds 10,000 reward.

The intended victim, said the prosecution, was 37-year-old Susan Humphrey, who had split from her husband in l995 after a nine-year marriage. The main cause, Humphrey claimed, was problems with money.

Humphrey left the marital home, but returned to it on a daily basis and set up listening devices in the house. His wife began divorce proceedings and took out a restraining order under which he had to remove the recording equipment and keep at least 100 yards away from the house.

But Humphrey breached the order almost immediately, and two weeks before the attack Susan Humphrey had attempted to have him jailed. There was also an incident when acid had been poured into the engine of her car.

Humphrey had also assaulted his former wife's new partner, 33-year-old Craig Millwater, throttling him when he found them together. Humphrey denied that he had tried to ruin her looks and ensure that if he could not have her, then she would not be attractive for anyone else.

On the night of the attack on 10 July l996, Humphrey had two containers of nitric acid in the boot of his car due to be delivered for business purposes to a company. But when the incident took place he had a "concrete alibi" about his whereabouts. Prosecution lawyer Gavin Chalmers claimed he must have hired someone else to do it.

Giving evidence, Mrs Humphrey described how she got home and saw Ms Hammett's face. She said: "I could not believe the sight I saw. I could not believe someone could do something like this."

Mrs Humphrey was asked while being cross-examined by Mr Gray whether she had anything to do with the acid attack on Ms Hammett. She responded: " I have nothing to do with any throwing of any acid.. I would not know anyone who would do such a horrendous act"

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