Victim of doorstep acid attack in Wakefield tells how he spent 18 months grieving for his life and eyesight

When Tomas Jackson heard what he thought was his cat scratching at the door two years ago this week, he had little idea it would change his life forever.

Friday, 11th October 2019, 3:02 pm
Updated Friday, 11th October 2019, 4:02 pm
Thomas Jackson is now blind after an acid attack in 2017, but has now set up his own business 'Crafting in the Dark'.

The hairdresser from Upton ended up confronting a gang of masked men and feared he was about to be shot when they pointed what he thought was gun at him.

Instead, they sprayed a liquid in his eyes that instantly blinded him.

It later transpired to be the corrosive chemical ammonia, and despite the doctors’ best efforts, he has been virtually blinded in his left eye, while his right was severely damaged.

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Fateful night: CCTV from that night caught the suspected vehicle.

Incredibly, police think the attack was simply a case of mistaken identity and those responsible have never been caught.

Fast forward two years and the 34-year-old has finally come to terms with the senseless attack and the huge changes he was forced to make by his loss of vision.

He has now even started his own business with an aim to help others who have suffered life-changing trauma.

He recently launched Crafting in the Dark in Pontefract town centre, a bespoke arts and crafts company that also runs workshops to encourage others to pick up a paint brush, knitting or sewing needles.

With the name referring to his loss of vision, he said: “It was always a bit of a hobby so I knew how to do it - for me it’s helped me out and kept me sane.

“People think it’s about doing crafts in the dark but it’s not!

“I had to adapt to my situation, I have to overcome everything.

“The long-term aim is to help others who have suffered similar trauma. I’m hoping it can eventually become a not-for-profit organisation.

“There was a time when I thought my life as over, and it wasn’t, it was just the start of a new direction.”

While registered blind, Tomas can see enough to move around safely, but has to use the zoom function on his mobile phone to read even the boldest print.

He hopes that a future operation could help restore some of his vision, and he could eventually learn to drive and even return to hairdressing.

His positive approach is a far cry from the months that followed the attack, when he admits he felt vulnerable and went to great lengths to hide his disability.

He admits “bluffing his way through life”, including striking up conversations with strangers at bus stops in the hope they could guide him onto the correct service.

But his life spiralled into a deep depression and he developed a fear of the future.

As part of his therapy, he attended classes to help him rebuild his life, one of which was arts and crafts.

“I could not do anything for myself but I did not want to ask for help,” he said.

“At first I was absolutely devastated and I thought my life was over. I went through every emotion. I did not want to go home, even though the police said it was a case of mistaken identity I had this paranoia that they would come back.

“It’s very hard to get yourself up and keep going to get your life back on track, rather than sit back and accept fate and sit and swirl around in the darkness. It was about 18 months that I grieved for my life and my eyesight. It’s not that I can’t do things now, I just have to find a way to do it.”

Life changing

Tomas’ world was turned upside down on the night of October 6, 2017. It was a scratching sound at his front door that first woke him, and so he made his way down the stairs of his Upton home thinking it might be the cat trying to get in.

He then saw a silhouette of a figure at the window and thought it might have been someone drunk trying to get into the wrong house. When he told him to leave he realised there was several of them, and they told him they were “coming in anyway”.

Frantically trying to phone the police, the masked raiders managed to prise open a window and confronted him.

It was then that they sprayed the ammonia in his eyes. He said: “I went blind almost immediately, everything was just white.

“I just screamed for help hoping a neighbour would hear. My vision started coming back after a couple of minutes, I’d rinsed them out because I knew I had to do something.”

Rushed to Pinderfields, he was also struggling to breathe due to the effects of the noxious liquid.

He was then put into a medically-induced coma for almost four days. And when he regained consciousness he was given the devastating news that his vision was unlikely to recover.

Those responsible for the attack are still at large.

Cloned number plates on the vehicles they used were caught on camera in Bedfordshire and Leicestershire ,although it is unknown if the culprits were from those areas.

The police determined that it was a case of mistaken identity, having struggled to find a motive.

Burglary was also ruled out after they left the property empty-handed within a matter of moments, despite cash and electronic gadgets, including an iPad, left on display.

Crafting in the Dark is above Etsy on Pontefract’s Cornmarket, opposite the Barley Mow pub.

He sells bespoke handmade items ranging from crochet, knitting, felting, candles, weaving.

He runs weekly craft-making workshops on Wednesday’s from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

For further details, log onto his Facebook page @CraftingInTheDark85

Police have re-issued an appeal to find those responsible for the attack on Mr Jackson, releasing CCTV pictures of the vehicles the suspects are thought to have used from that night two years ago.

Detective Inspector Craig Nicholls of Wakefield CID, said: “A number of police enquiries including a media appeal for information about suspect vehicles were made regarding this incident which was clearly very distressing for the victim.

“He was left with lasting injuries from what was a horrible and very frightening attack, and while there are no active lines of enquiry at present we do continue to appeal for information. We will investigate any new information which comes to light and anyone who can assist is asked to contact Wakefield CID on 101 referencing 13170462259. Information can also be given in complete anonymity to the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.”